United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

3rd October 2021 : Harvest Thanksgiving

CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

Our current service pattern is now set to continue – but the bad news is that with the recent outbreak of Covid within St James’ congregation although we will be able to serve coffee after the service, 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.

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: the recent wedding of James Heaney and Saliha Ayham

Pray for: all dependent on petrol to get to work; forecourt managers and tanker drivers

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Please pray for: Reg and Eileen; Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Beryl; Joy and Dave; Maureen; Margaret Perkins; Paul and family; William and family; Gemma; the family of Emily and Sammie; Beccy and family, Richard Sewell, Jemma; Sheila Dunn; Mary Blow; Rebecca and Luke Dadson and their parents, Wendy and Paul; Judith Myatt; Sean; Matthew; Steve; Margot; Bruce


Give thanks for: community groups reopening; all who work to alleviate suffering

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.

PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:

Bridget Salter; Peter Traill; Betty Le Goff

Bridget’s funeral will be at the crematorium at 11.15am on Tuesday 12th October, and we wish Bruce and her family well as they visit from the mainland.

Our sincere condolences also go to Jill Traill, following her sad bereavement. The funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, but meanwhile please hold her and the family in prayer.

Many of you will remember Betty, who used to be a regular worshipper at St James’, and we pray also for John and Robert, her two sons, as they mourn her.

******************

COLLECT FOR HARVEST THANKSGIVING

Eternal God,

you crown the year with your goodness

and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season:

grant that we may use them to your glory,

for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT READING (at St Mildred’s) Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,

2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.

7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

GOSPEL Matthew 20 : 1-16

Jesus said, ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; 4and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” 7They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.”

8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 13But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

ADDRESS

Here’s a memory some of you might relate to. For some of you it might be a good memory, for others a bit more negative. Think back to a time when either at school or college they were choosing people for a team: perhaps for football, or hockey, or some other sporting event, or – if that’s too long ago! – maybe your club was choosing people to enter a competition or a quiz. I remember it well: waiting for leaders at a youth club to choose their sides, and wondering if I was going to be the last one picked, the one they had to put up with but didn’t really want. Of course, a lot depends on how good you are and how likely you are to get picked. Not being very talented at games, I still remember feeling hurt if nobody wanted me, even so.

Today’s labourers in the vineyard don’t undergo any sort of ability test that we know of. They are simply an available pool of labour, patiently waiting for someone to offer them work. They’ve got nothing else to do. They might be hoping for a decent vineyard owner to take them on, but they aren’t actually in a position to turn down any offer, even a zero hours contract. So it must come as a huge relief when the vineyard owner comes along early in the morning and negotiates a decent day’s wage, and off they go. Gradually during the day more and more people get hired – the vineyard owner doesn’t seem to have a fixed total of employees in mind – as the day goes on he brings ever more labourers into his fields. Together they bring in the harvest, and together they line up for their wages at the end of the day. And that is when all the trouble starts. Because scandalously the ones who have put in far fewer hours get just as much as the first recruits. It turns out that the vineyard owner is less concerned about the hours worked than the workers are. So what does he think he is playing at? What exactly are his priorities?

If you can call it a priority, the vineyard owner’s chief priority is to be generous. He isn’t looking to measure how long anyone has worked, or even the quality of their work, it seems. Neither does he start with the most deserving labourers. He actually prioritises the no-hopers, the ones who have spent most of the day knowing that yet again they haven’t been chosen, yet again they might be going home with nothing to show for their day, yet again life has kicked them in the teeth. But things are about to change miraculously. They are the first to be rewarded, and the amount is way higher than they could ever have hoped for. So the rest imagine that they will get more: but they too get the same amount.

Can I suggest that two things are happening here? One is that the labourers are operating to a different system from the vineyard owner. It’s a very human system: people are valued by how much they contribute, by the deeds they do, the amount they invest in it. But the vineyard owner has different values. He sees the labourers all as individual people, and he has pity on the ones everyone else rejects. His care for them outweighs the idea of whether they deserve to be treated on equal terms with the first workers. And the second thing that is happening is that all the workers take their eye off the ball at pay-time. During the day, they haven’t had any problem all working together. The priority has been to do the master’s work. But now that the work is over, they can start looking not at their master’s work, but at each other, and envying the no-hopers their good fortune, and feeling discontented with their own lot. It comes from failing to see things from their employer’s perspective, and focussing not on what they have, but on what they don’t have.

I wonder if any of that strikes a chord with us? We buy in to the idea that we are valuable for what we do in life rather than paying attention to who we are. It starts early on, when people say to quite small children, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” instead of saying “What do you want to be?” The vineyard owner, God, is far more interested in who we are than in what we do. We are called to be a reflection of God himself: how we each go about that is a separate matter. All we need to do is be willing, and God will take us on. And being willing means doing what the unemployed labourers do: it means putting ourselves in the place where the vineyard owner is looking for workers, going to the marketplace, as it were. So if you’re looking for God to give you a job, you need to work out where the most likely place is to find God. Is it in the church? That ought to be a starting point, but I would guess that there are a fair few in our churches who haven’t yet felt God’s call to their hearts, even though their bodies might physically have been waiting around for hours, weeks, years. But there are also many faithful labourers who go off and work in the vineyard from an early stage of their discipleship. After all, there is no such thing as a person who has no vocation: God has a purpose for each and every one of us, and if we open ourselves up to him, he will make it clear. My question is, what are we doing to help that process along? How easy do we make it for our fellow labourers to join in God’s work? How do we best encourage each other?

Maybe we could take a leaf out of the book of those hardworking labourers, who together brought in the harvest. In our worship, and in our practical outworking of God’s tasks in the world, if we focus on God’s Kingdom and not on our differences, a lot of things will improve. Hurts and grudges, if we pay them less attention, will fade more quickly. Differences will become less important if we have a common aim. Allowing ourselves to become more dependent on each other will increase the potential for commitment, because labourers need to know they are an integral part of the whole, not an optional extra. Above all, doing God’s work enables us to draw closer to him in our hearts as well as in our heads, and allows the love of God to blaze forth, not just in church but wherever the labourers’ vocation takes them.

Amen.

INTERCESSIONS

Holy Father, we thank you for the fruit of the earth that you allow us to grow, providing us with sunshine, wind and rain. We, today, offer these gifts that we have provided to pass on to people who have run into unfortunate times. Let these gifts go with your, and our, blessings, so that they can do good wherever they go. Let us also remember that we should only have what we need in this world.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, We ask you to support these in the world that are unable to return to the countries and homes through war, natural disasters, political unrest. Keep them safe wherever they are, and we trust that one day they can return.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we ask you to keep safe and support all those people who are working in your Name all over the world. Some of them fill unable to worship you openly and have to hid away in their homes praying that they will be safe. Some have fled their homeland to protect their families. Give them all the wisdom and strength that you are with them at all times.

Locally, we ask that you support all our ministers and laypeople that are doing your work.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we think of all the people who are unwell, some in hospital, some in residential homes and some in their own homes. We trust that they all get the help and assistance they need, either by professionals or by neighbours, family or friends, so that they all can recover.

We also think of all those people who have passed onto your Heavenly House, including those that we know who have recently joined you. We also remember those whose anniversaries occur at this time. We also ask you to support those of us that remember them.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, as winter approaches, and the nights darken, please keep all those people who have to be out at that time, safe and well. Ask them to think of their responsibilities as they go about, for themselves or for the other people they may see or meet.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we think of all of us in St James and St Mildred’s: help us all try and help people we see that maybe need a guiding hand. We pray that through us you will guide them so that there lives will improve and that they will see your hand in their lives.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, let us all remember to only receive what we are due and understand if others receive more.

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 of the harvest,

with joy we have offered thanksgiving for your love in creation

and have shared in the bread and the wine of the kingdom:

by your grace plant within us a reverence for all that you give us

and make us generous and wise stewards

of the good things we enjoy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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

..\Jane’s recorded music\AMHS 289 To thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise.MOV

..\Jane’s recorded music\AMHS 290 We plough the fields and scatter.MOV

ST MILDRED’S PCC

There will be a PCC meeting this coming Thursday, 7th October, at 7.30pm in the parish centre. We shall also be setting PCC dates for the ensuing year, so please attend if you possibly can.

FRIENDSHIP GUILD

St James’ Friendship Guild meeting scheduled for this month has been postponed. Please look out for further details of when we can resume.

BROWSERS LIBRARY

Have you been along to the Browsers Library at St James’ yet? Do drop in on Saturday from 10.00-12.00 for a coffee, choose a free book, buy a jigsaw or just have a socially distanced chat. All visitors please wash your hands on entry: all returned stock is kept separate until it is safe to return it to the shelves. (Not that you have to bring them back, of course…!) Thank you to everyone who has volunteered so far – there’s always room for more!

A HARVEST THANK YOU

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to today’s harvest celebrations, especially by making our churches look so attractive, but also by your kind donations.

SINGABOUT

Singabout will be resuming on Thursday 7th October at St James’ church hall at 2.00pm. If you like community singing, why not give it a go?

FINALLY…

A message from Rev Judith Swaine, our Island prison chaplain:

Prisons Week this year is 10 – 16 October 2021.

This is the week we are asked to pray especially for those who live and work in prisons and their families as well as those who are victims of crime and the catastrophic and far-reaching effects. If you would like to take part in the prayer week there is a prayer sheet that can be downloaded from the Prison Week website; https://prisonsweek.org/

Anyone who feels they may have a discernment toward serving God through (pastoral) ministry to those in prison and has a couple of hours free each month might be interested in volunteering to become an Official Prison Visitor. This is a scheme run by the National Association of Prison Visitors and seeks to provide visitors for those prisoners who would not otherwise receive visits. It is so important for prisoners to have contact with the ‘outside’ world to help with their rehabilitation and prepare them for when they leave prison.

If you would like to find out more about being an Official Prison Visitor, without obligation, I would love to hear from you at HMP Isle of Wight.

Please contact me by e-mail on Judith.Swaine

God bless and thank you

Rev Judith Swaine

Anglican chaplain

HMP Isle of Wight

Anyone who does not have access to email or the Internet is welcome to ask me to obtain details and resources!

Rev Susan