United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
5th July 2020: Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Welcome back to church!
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: our return to our church buildings; our congregations; new freedoms after lockdown.
Pray for: victims of injustice; places returning to lockdown; the mentally ill; businesses resuming trading.
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Ena Young; Olivia; Dave and Liz Smith; Brenda; Stuart; Andrew; Gordon; Joy and Dave; Sarah and colleagues; Beryl Carpenter; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell.
Give thanks for: all volunteering as the churches re-open; our local community hub; schools and their staff
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
All buried in our churchyards; church benefactors.
COLLECT FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 24 : 34-38, 42-49, 58-end
34 Abraham’s servant said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. 35The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37My master made me swear, saying, “You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.”
42 ‘I came today to the spring, and said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,’ 44and who will say to me, ‘Drink, and I will draw for your camels also’—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.”
45 ‘Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water-jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, “Please let me drink.” 46She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I will also water your camels.” So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47Then I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.” So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48Then I bowed my head and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.’ 58And they called Rebekah, and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will.’ 59So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
‘May you, our sister, become
thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes.’
61Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
62 Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65and said to the servant, ‘Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?’ The servant said, ‘It is my master.’ So she took her veil and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 11 : 16-19, 25-end
Jesus continued, 16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’
25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
You don’t need me to tell you that there are all sorts of different ways of praying. During these last few weeks I hope some of you might have explored some of them. After all, when we are deprived of our usual routines, we have an open gateway to experiment: some folks have experimented with visiting online services, while for others it has meant going out in the fine weather and finding those special places where we might sense God’s presence. Some have learned about the daily office, which is a monastically-based discipline. And probably every parent who has been home-schooling, and quite a few people in the middle of domestic tensions have learned that simplest appeal to God: “Oh God!!” out of frustration and tiredness…! And of course we all know the quick sort of prayers where we try to make a bargain with God “Dear God, if you just do this one thing for me I will always say my prayers and be good for ever and ever”. That one is caricatured in the story of the man driving round looking for a parking space, and his prayer is this: “O God, you know I’m running late, so please find me a parking space – Oh wait, don’t bother, I’ve found one!”
Many many books have been written about prayer, but today the one that type of prayer that comes to mind is called Ignatian prayer. Ignatius suggested that it is good to immerse oneself within the part of the bible we are studying, so that the scene comes alive around us. And so I picture Jesus, surrounded by tight-lipped scribes and Pharisees, all intent on finding fault with him. It’s maybe a hot day, and I can see that he looks tired and frustrated. He is trying to get across what he understands of the love of God, the experience of God that is ours for the taking if we will but open ourselves up to it. He speaks with authority simply because he knows what God is like. He paints picture after picture of what the kingdom of heaven is like, drawing on examples from the things he sees around him – a mustard tree, a field with a precious buried pearl, a wedding feast, a father whose lost son comes home and is alive again, and so on. Yet time and time again the people who are supposed to be the experts – the scribes, the Pharisees, the temple authorities – can do nothing but find fault. So I think in today’s reading Jesus allows his a frustration to show.
But at the same time, he looks around at his followers: fishermen, humble folk, ordinary people with no learning or profound theological qualifications, society rejects and poor people who can’t even afford to put much into the temple treasury – and he thanks God that they are open to hear the good news he has come to bring. Wisdom does not consist in endlessly analysing the theories about God: wisdom – true wisdom – comes from the mouths of children and the hearts of the innocent. These are the people who simply know God from their own experience of being blessed and forgiven. I wonder how it felt to be standing near him when he said ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…my yoke is easy and my burden light.’ And I find myself longing for that same sense of rest and relief.
Far too often we allow ourselves to be distracted from the love of God by our own anxieties and fears. We want to make God too complicated, too: he isn’t the angry policeman waiting to catch us out in the misdemeanours we are all too aware of. Our faith needs to be, not childish but childlike, confident that God loves us and wants what is best for us. Reading that passage makes me want to lean back and relax into God’s presence. Maybe those of us who were brought up on the Book of Common Prayer have suffered unduly from having left undone those things which we ought to have done and done those things which we ought not to have done, with the accompanying damning statement that there is no health in us. While we should always take sin seriously, we should never fail to take on board the love and affirmation God has for each of us, however messy our lives get. I’m sure the devil would love us to go round being miserable, criticising ourselves and those around us and refusing to acknowledge we could be God’s beloved children: but the devil is a liar, and the death and resurrection of our Lord as well as his constant reaching out to us should make that abundantly clear. Furthermore, if we each remembered more often that those around us are also children of God, we might ourselves become that bit more affirming and encouraging of each other.
Today we are back in our churches, and able once more to receive the sacrament of communion. Or, if we feel we are not ready for that yet, at least to receive spiritually and know that clergy across the world are receiving it for us. I pray that we will have learned what matters and what doesn’t matter to God about church life: that we won’t simply go back to things we might have outgrown, to traditions that don’t always feed us, but that we will go on experimenting and finding new ways to draw closer to God. Because that is the one thing we are all called to do, wherever we are: to let his love flow over us and through us and out of us, so that the world may see and believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
INTERCESSIONS (Supplied by Gillian Jackson)
We are grateful Lord to be here together again after over 100 days of lockdown. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you Lord for all the efforts made to keep us worshipping with the aid of modern technology by Reverend Susan; our musicians; the internet and television.
Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer
Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen, our Government, and all in Authority during this difficult time. We ask for your protection for all front line and keyworkers, and those who answer the call made on our emergency services, especially those involved in enforcing law and order.
Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer
We pray for the safety of our families and friends; people in hospital suffering from the Coronavirus, and all who have died in the past few months and their loved ones. We ask you Lord to be close, and to comfort those in difficulty, sorrow or need.
Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer
During a time of silence we bring to you, Gracious God, our own individual thoughts and concerns.
Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer
As we go forward into this new phase of living help us all to make wise decisions and take sensible precautions so that people stay well, and we get through this pandemic as quickly as possible. Loving heavenly Father, we pray for hope in the face of despair; peace and not panic, and for faith and not fear. Guard us and guide us, and heal our world.
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:
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
To conclude, rest quietly in God’s presence.
WELCOME BACK TO CHURCH!
Initially at least our services be a straightforward communion service with no hymns – however, we shall have some introductory and closing music, as well as some extra music during the service. Communion will be offered in one kind, and there is the option of not receiving at all if you feel it is safer for you to let the priest receive on your behalf. Please follow the directions of the stewards for going up to receive communion and be aware of the usual social distancing requirements. I will of course continue to administer communion in the pews to anyone unable to walk to the altar. We are advised to remain standing to receive the bread.
On leaving the church, please drop your service booklet into the basket by the exit door and note that we are leaving by a different door from the way we came in. At St James’ this will be via the south door at the front, and at St Mildred’s via the royal chapel.
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ RE-OPENING
Subject to there being enough volunteers, the café at St Mildred’s will re-open on Monday 6th July from 10.00am – 3.00pm, Mondays to Thursdays. Social distancing will be in place, and although it is preferable for folks to eat outdoors, it will be perfectly possible to have a table indoors for tea, coffee and cakes. During this initial period the church will be available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for private prayer, but it is hoped to expand this by an extra day to match the café opening times in due course. If you would like to volunteer and are not on the current lists, please contact Peter Robinson (299230) to be allocated a slot at a suitable time. NB The rule about over 70s has been lifted, but please check with me first as I have to give permission!
The pew sheet will be available by email from Sunday afternoons and also can be found on the parish website. We are indebted to Raj for enabling the website to function this way! Those who are unable to receive email will continue to receive a hard copy. Please have a look on your way out and see whether you live near to anyone who needs to have a hard copy delivered. Now that we are open again, I would appreciate your help in delivering these.