United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

7th February 2021 : Second Sunday before Lent

A trial run of the diocesan-approved Ash Wednesday ritual revealed one or two minor flaws in the procedure…

WORSHIP IN (EXTRA)ORDINARY TIME

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: our local police; kind neighbours; all volunteers

Pray for: Alexei Navalny; all seeking democratic freedom, especially in Myanmar; hauliers and all affected by post-Brexit rulings

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Please pray for: Irene and Henry; Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Oliver; Rita; Catherine Rushworth and her anxious family; Stuart; families of those in mourning

Give thanks for: the ongoing vaccination programme

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:

Ena Young; Otto Stein; Captain Sir Tom Moore

Ena Young’s funeral will be at Newchurch (NOT Newtown, which was named in error last week!), where her husband is buried. The service will be on 22nd February at 1.00pm, but is not being live-streamed. Anyone wishing to pay their respects outside church is welcome, but number limitations preclude those other than the family from attending inside the church. Please pray for Ena and her family on that day if possible.

COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE LENT

Almighty God,

give us reverence for all creation

and respect for every person,

that we may mirror your likeness

in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

READINGS

NEW TESTAMENT READING Colossians 1 : 15-20

15 Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

GOSPEL John 1 : 1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

ADDRESS

I have been reading a lot of detective fiction during lockdown, and it seems to me that a number of things are necessary for a book to be successful. You need, for instance, a broad theme – say, that of justice, the idea in your head that certain values will prevail, the villain will eventually get caught, and that everything will be resolved as a satisfying picture. You might even flag this up occasionally with some sort of motif to remind people. Then you need a plot, or even a series of plots and subplots, to make the story interesting and encourage the reader to go on unravelling the facts. You need characters for the reader to engage with, preferably showing some depth and/or with interesting quirks to either their outer or inner lives; and you need to be able to describe the scene, the background against which everything is happening. There may well be more aspects to writing books, but that will do for now. If you are basing the book in a particular place or time, you also need to do some solid research, of course, as well. (Did anyone notice in the otherwise brilliant film of Sutton Hoo recently, that they ate lemon drizzle cake? Not in that time period, they didn’t!)

Most, if not all, of this structural stuff comes up in those opening verses of John’s gospel. When we look at the passage, the opening words In the beginning…(was the Word) give us the cosmic setting. It links beautifully with the opening of the first book of the Old Testament: In the beginning…, God. So already John is telling us something about Jesus, just by association. Neat, eh? But then John links this cosmic dimension with the incarnation and adds the motif of light as a symbol that recurs throughout the rest of the gospel. (If you are looking for a lockdown activity, it’s worth reading the gospel and looking for those references to light and darkness!) Spoiler alert – the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There is going to be a happy ever after. But meanwhile, we go right into the story itself, with the arrival on the scene of the characters of John the Baptist and then of Jesus (still not named, still the cosmic figure) and the fact that this stupendous event was not accepted by many people. We end the reading on a note of glory, holding our breath.

All of this text is a close weaving of theme, motif, description and plot development. It is clearly not a simple re-telling of the story of Jesus’ life in the way that the other three gospels might be seen: we have to work harder at John, but it is well worth it. Setting down an event that deals with the essence of God Himself, God made human, is akin to trying to cram the infinite into a tiny bottle – a problem St Paul, too, had when he was trying to describe to the church at Colossae who Jesus was. Today’s readings show them both as being remarkably concise.

So today’s readings give us profound pause for thought. This is the gospel we proclaim, and it is supposed to be good news, not just for us but to all God’s children. But faced with so huge an event, and lacking the skills of a Gospel writer or a St Paul, no wonder we struggle to be evangelists in our own right. How do we even begin to get across what God is like? What he means to us? It’s easy to feel defeated before we even begin.

Yet actually, the task is not so massive as we might fear. We are not called to be profound theological scholars, but simply to live the Gospel and pass on that experience to those we encounter. We shall never be required to blind people with the fullness of the entire gospel in one go: but we are called, each and every one of us, to reflect as much of Jesus as we can to the world and to respond to the needs of our neighbours – both friends and enemies – in a way that gives glory to God.

There is the potential for a relevant joke here, so ….

Jesus said to some Anglicans, "Who do you say that I am?"

They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma of which we find the

ultimate meaning in our interpersonal relationships."

And Jesus said, "What?"

The point is that unless we speak from our own experience and understanding, we shall end up talking gibberish. That experience and understanding might not be perfect, of course, but if we are open to the influence of the Holy Spirit we shall gradually deepen our experience and our understanding at the same time. Our faith is not a static thing: it needs to grow and develop, always with Jesus at the centre rather than our own priorities. It also needs to be tested in the crucible of conversations and experiences with people we trust, so that we don’t head blindly down some erratic side alley that draws us away from our core calling. Rooting our spoken beliefs in a ministry that has a practical outworking in the community is a great way of consolidating both aspects of being a Christian.

All of which brings us neatly back to our Collect for today:

Almighty God,

give us reverence for all creation

and respect for every person,

that we may mirror your likeness

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May we indeed seek to draw close to God by proclaiming the Gospel in our actions and reflecting Jesus in our everyday life – and may we not hesitate to share our joy that despite our current situation, the light still shines, and the darkness has not overcome it. Amen.

INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Robert Hall)

Heavenly Father, in these times of trouble, we ask you that you give guidance, strength and wisdom to all the leaders of our Church. We especially pray for Bishop Christopher, Archdeacon Peter, Rev Susan and our Associate Priests Mike and Peter. We also think of our Churchwarden Rose, Colin, Robin and Peter as well as both Church Councils. Give them the strength to make decisions in these troublesome times.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We ask you to give guidance to all Governments so that they can help fight this COVID virus and make the decisions that help us all fight this virus. We also pray that you will give wisdom to all Leaders where there isn’t peace.
Give the Leaders strength so that they can have peace, even if they don’t agree, so that the population can live safely without worry of fighting starting again.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We think of all those people who are no longer with us and have joined you in the Lord’s House. We especially think of Sir Tom, who inspired the nation with the way he raised so much for the NHS. We also remember all those who we see no more, but have wonderful memories of them, and know that they are at peace with you, Lord.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We pray for all those people who are going about their jobs at this time: the emergency workers, all NHS staff, delivery drivers, bus drivers and many more too numerous to mention. We pray that they can return to their families safe and well.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We think of our Community, many that are unable to meet their friends and relatives. Give them all strength and help them, so that in the future they can see their loved ones again. We also pray that neighbours and friends will support them at this time. Please Lord, give us all the strength and wisdom to see the light at the end of the path and, with your help, that we will come through this dark tunnel.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

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:

God our creator,

by your gift

the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise,

and the bread of life at the heart of your Church:

may we who have been nourished at our spiritual communion on earth

be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross

and enjoy the delights of eternity;

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\HON 451 Songs of thankfulness and praise.MOV

..\Jane’s recorded music\HON 317 Shine, Jesus, shine.MOV

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.

ASH WEDNESDAY – 17th February

It looks as though we will still be closed on Ash Wednesday in terms of formal worship. However, if anyone would like to receive the imposition of ashes (in a Covid-safe manner) I will be in both churches during the day to offer this ministry.

At St James’ ~ 9.30-10.30am

At St Mildred’s ~ 2.00-3.00pm

LENT COURSE

Normally Churches Together would offer an ecumenical Lent course, but that is sadly not possible this year. However, I will hope to provide some materials for you to ponder during Lent by way of a commitment until we are able to meet together again.

WORD SEARCH

As we are remarkably short of notices, I decided to add a word search to the pew sheet. The words to find all come from today’s readings – and this one is relatively easy, so have fun!