United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
7th March 2021 : Third Sunday in Lent
CURRENT WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
We are back! For those who feel confident to attend, our services have now resumed, since this was the majority verdict of both PCCs. However, please do not feel pressurised into attending if you do not feel safe to do so: the PCC decisions were not unanimous. Even if you have had the vaccine, be aware that others have yet to do so, and that those who have been inoculated can still be carriers of infection. Contrary to all our longstanding habits, this is not a social occasion, and you are strongly discouraged from lingering afterwards, either indoors or outdoors, to chat.
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.
Previous services at Whippingham are now being shown on YouTube via the following link:
Today’s service will appear on YouTube later this week.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: our Area Dean Amanda and Archdeacon Peter
Pray for: teachers and classroom assistants; all who work in schools; families undertaking home learning
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: HRH Prince Philip; 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; Thabani Maposa and family; families of those in mourning
Give thanks for: reduction in Covid cases across the island
If you wish particular names to be added to the prayer list, please inform Rev Susan. All names will be 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:
Myra Widdowson ~ Funeral: 10.30am, 10th March at the crematorium
Please pray for Myra and her family on the relevant day if possible.
COLLECT FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
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.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Exodus 20 : 1-17
Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8 Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. 9For six days you shall labour and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
GOSPEL John 2 : 13-22
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
At morning prayer this last week we have been doggedly ploughing through extracts from the book of Jeremiah, with particular reference to the prophecy that God is about to pass a terrible judgement on the Israelite people because they have turned away from him and committed all sorts of sins. You can’t avoid the conclusion that God is vengeful and destructive, however much his people have gone wrong and apparently forgotten all about the ten commandments. And the idea of a God who punishes is one that many of us secretly carry around with us still. Yet it is a gross distortion of the truth.
The fact of the matter is that the ten commandments are fundamental to the way we live as a community. They ought to be taught in schools as part of citizenship. The first four relate to God and how to prioritise him in our lives, and the other six refer to how to live in a community. Very often we focus on the negatives that are mentioned: You shall not …murder, commit adultery, steal… and so on. But it would be healthier if we looked at them positively. Imagine a world where there was no murdering, where people were faithful to each other, where nobody stole anything or told lies about their neighbour. Where you didn’t envy other people what they had and try to get it for yourself. Isn’t that the kind of world we would all want to live in? The commandments offer a framework for living that we ignore at our peril. They are meant, not to punish us, but to give us support, without which we would quickly descend into anarchy. Everyone needs boundaries.
Where it all goes wrong is if the boundaries become more important than the people they are designed to protect. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had got it off to a fine art in terms of rules, systems and boundaries. It had become an obsession, and Jesus was rightly angered when he saw it in full play at the Temple. Doubtless there were good reasons why livestock for sacrifices was there, along with the wherewithal to buy them. Doubtless there was a good reason for having a special Temple currency, which meant that ordinary money had to be exchanged for Temple money. Doubtless there were good reasons why access to the holier parts of the building had to be restricted. And so on. But all Jesus saw was that ordinary people were being exploited and turned away in their attempts to reach out to God. And it made him angry.
The anger of Jesus is something that we need to take more seriously than the Victorians did, with their rather saccharine hymns about Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. It wasn’t being meek and mild that got him crucified: it was being a threat to the finely-balanced system that the religious authorities of the day had set up, and by which they were living quite happily. Injustice angers Jesus. And if the very people who were supposed to be leading the Israelites were actually setting up barriers between them and God, he was having none of it.
Today ours are the hands we offer to do Christ’s work. Important though our churches are as places of worship, that worship needs to be backed up by physical action in our communities, and it may just be that over the last few decades we have not quite managed the balance correctly. But the scales do seem to be tipping: up and down the country churches are involved in foodbanks, street pastors, school mentoring schemes, refugee support, and a good many other initiatives. I still remember going to San Francisco and finding the foodbank supplies all stocked up round the central altar in a church, where the pictures of modern-day saints were dancing round the walls as icons. Meanwhile the local cathedral was running classes for Alcoholics Anonymous, literacy and refugee support. What happened on a Sunday was secondary to all that, and the two arms of the Church, worship and social action, were what made the place thrive.
Now the needs of people round here may be very different. We are not all called to exactly the same ministry because the setting of each church is individual. But we are called to pay attention to the people God entrusts to us, whether inside the church or beyond it. Our fresh start post-Covid is an opportunity for us to seize. We need to do what we can wherever we can, and above all we need to trust that God will show us his will. And to do that, we need to pay attention to him and listen.
Of course, that two-pronged approach comes down to the summary of the Law: Love God, love your neighbour. We are back with the ten commandments. With God’s grace, let us follow them in spirit, for Jesus’ sake.
INTERCESSIONS(Supplied by Gillian Jackson)
In this house of prayer and worship, in the same way that Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers, we pray Lord that you would help us to clear any clutter or misunderstandings from our own hearts and minds, so that we can provide a sacred space for you.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
As we approach a year since the first lockdown of this Pandemic began, we pray for all those missing the camaraderie of acquaintances, friends and family. Compassionate Lord help them, and us, to have faith that we will all be able to get-together again soon.
Thank you Lord for the heroic efforts of all in our NHS, all key workers and volunteers. We thank you for protecting us and over 20 million people in the UK who have now had a first dose of the vaccine. We pray that people world-wide will all be able to share this blessing.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
We pray for the bereaved, the lonely, the struggling, and the sick, and for an easing of the many hardships and privations people have had to cope with this past year. We especially ask Lord for you to be close to those feeling isolated in hospital and care homes with no visitors allowed in yet.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
We pray for churches and clergy throughout the world doing their best to keep going with on-line services and helping where they can. Here on the Island we ask for your guidance Lord as we begin the process of seeking a successor to Christopher, Bishop of Portsmouth, as he retires.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
Give wisdom to all in authority and help our Government and leaders worldwide to make decisions for the common good. We pray for our Queen and royal family, concerned about the health of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
In your 10 commandments Lord, you teach us life-enhancing lessons. We pray for the safety of all children returning to school tomorrow, all teaching staff, and all who work in schools.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer
As we approach Easter with hope, and are reminded of the resurrection of Christ, help us Lord to be mindful of the fact that we are the living stones of your spiritual house in the world. We thank you for your patience Lord, when we ignore or dismiss your quiet Presence waiting for us to believe and trust in your unfailing love.
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:
grant your people grace to withstand the temptations
of the world, the flesh and the devil,
and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, either listen to the music links below or simply rest quietly in God’s presence
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.
Please collect your special flowers on the way out of church after the service. Feel free to take some for anyone unable to attend in person!
The services for Holy week and Easter will be as follows:
Palm Sunday ~ Usual time of service at both churches, this year without a procession of palms. However, the palm crosses will be blessed at the start of the service.
Monday – Thursday of Holy Week ~ 7.30pm online meditation, with a special Maundy Thursday focus on Thursday.
Good Friday ~ 9.30am Communion from the reserved sacrament at St James’, East Cowes
~ 2.00pm Communion from the reserved sacrament at St Mildred’s, Whippingham
NB You will need to download the Zoom app and request the invitation links to attend these.
(Holy Saturday ~ decorating of both churches for Sunday)
Easter Sunday ~ Festival Communion at 9.30am (St James’, East Cowes) and 11.15am (St Mildred’s, Whippingham)
CHOOSE A LENT COURSE!
Option 1: Live Lent (The diocesan Lent course for this year)
If you choose this option and would like to read the full book, I am happy to order you a copy. (SPCK, £9.99)However, you can get the general flavour from the extracts shown here
Session 3: Jesus was in the transformation business
Featured Bible Passages
• Mark 5:1-20
• 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
• 1 John 1:1-3
One of the most remarkable stories of instant transformation is in Jesus’ dealings with the demoniac in Mark 5. Jesus travels by boat to an area called the land of the Gerasene’s. It is one of the first encounters that we see Jesus having in Gentile territory. In this remote place, Jesus encounters man who is possessed by multiple demons. The initial description that Mark gives us of this man is distressing: wild and unkempt, ostracized from the local community, even his own family, wailing out loud and a danger to himself. We can only presume that this troubled man had no prior knowledge of Jesus, yet he is drawn to him and falls down on his knees before him. It becomes clear that the man is entirely riddled with demons and that only the all-powerful word of Jesus can break his chains. Jesus instantly sets the man free, although it does not turn out so well for the herd of pigs nearby. Mark is keen to report that by the time the crowd had heard of this story they were faced with an entirely different picture of the man, who now sat clothed, calm and able to communicate articulately. The transformation under-gone by this man was complete: from chaos to peace, from danger to security.
This miracle is one of many instances in the Gospels when encounter with Jesus brings complete and utter transformation and freedom. You might think that this story of transformation would be met with great relief by the town who no longer have to listen to the terrifying screams of the man wandering around the tombs. However, their fear now turns away from this man and focuses on Jesus instead. They are unsure what to make of his power and were possibly also concerned about the impact on the local farming community. The town turns out and begs Jesus to leave. This is so different from the many occasions where people beg Jesus to stay. Here his presence is not welcome. It is therefore not surprising that the freed man now wants to follow the one who has set him free. Why stay in the town that has exiled him? The man tries to climb in the boat with Jesus when he goes to leave, but Jesus says these words to him: ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you’ (Mark 5 : 19).
It is surprising that Jesus doesn’t take the man with him, isn’t it? Only a few chapters ago he had been recruiting followers for his newly formed band of disciples. Surely this man would be the perfect new apprentice with a miraculous story to share? Jesus knows the home crowd are hostile. Why not save the man the hardship and take him on board? However, Jesus resists the man’s desire to follow him and instead sends him back as a witness to his own community, the very community that had been so fearful of him. What is also striking is that this man has very little experience of Jesus other than this one exchange. He hasn’t listened to the hours of teaching that the other disciples had. However, Jesus sends him back, simply to tell ‘how much the Lord has done’ for him. This man was called to witness to the story of God’s work in his life, to speak of his utter transformation and his present experience of freedom and peace. And we soon read that ‘every-one was amazed’ in the surrounding towns (Mark 5.20). Where Jesus had caused initial confusion and fear, this man’s story of his encounter with Jesus in turn began to transform the lives around him. I love this story from Mark’s Gospel because it is a powerful illustration of the influence of personal story. Jesus leaves the man in his home town, untrained but full of his own personal encounter. And the results speak for themselves. This way of witnessing is one of the first and easiest ways we can start to share our faith with people and can be one of the simplest ways to get started on imaginative evangelism.
• The world is full of stories. A quick look at a newspaper or blog, half an hour in front of the television, or time spent listening to a podcast will tell you as much. We each have a story too and our personal stories are powerful.
• Telling our story doesn’t have to be difficult. Hannah Steele gives a blueprint for us as we share our stories. We should be prepared, authentic, honest, bold, relevant, respectful and look for connections. Our stories should be accessible.
• Our stories are not only to be told but lived. Indeed, we cannot tell a story that we have not lived. Part of telling our stories is inviting others to share in our lives and be part of our stories.
Questions to ponder
1. Think of a story of encountering God that you have shared with others or others have shared with you. What did you learn from the experience?
2. In what practical ways might you express God’s love to a neighbour this week?
3. At this point in your Lenten journey, be still for a while and imagine Jesus gazing into your eyes in love. How do you find yourself responding?
Option 2: Lent at Home (A less word-based course suitable especially for use at home. The clue is in the title!)
LENT AT HOME (2021) Lent is a season when many people make a special focus on enhancing their ever-growing and loving relationship with God. Christ’s life, ministry, and death are remembered during this season. Also, it can be a time to think about our own journey of faith – the good bits and the bad – as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week and Easter. In this course are depictions of some objects, readings, actions and prayers to help you in that preparation. Perhaps you might be able to gather together an actual collection of the objects referred to.
How to use this course
Every week there is an object, Bible reading and reflection for each week of Lent. The Bible readings are taken from the Sunday readings used in church during the season of Lent. At some point during the week, spend a little time with the object, readings, actions and prayers. You might like to use it as a prompt for conversation with others in your household or you might want to leave the object somewhere you will see it as a reminder to continue thinking about these things throughout the week. May you have a blessed Lent and remember that God loves you.
Week 3: Chocolate coin
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. (John 2: 13 – 22)
Jesus saw an urgent need for change and makes that change happen. What are the things in our world, our communities, our families and our lives that need to change?
Can you make a list of those things, and then ask God how we too can help to make change happen? Maybe it is writing to your MP or to an organisation, maybe it is joining in with a campaign, maybe it is supporting a charity ~ whatever it is, ask for God’s help.
Prayer: Temple-clearing Lord, make us agents of change in your name. May we, too, turn the tables. Give us wisdom to inform our actions. Give us courage to challenge the way things are, and determination to help create a more just and peaceful world. Amen.
EVENING WORSHIP ON ZOOM
If you would like to take part in a weekly Zoom service of Celtic Evening Prayer please tell Rev Susan and I will send out an online invitation. You do not have to own a computer to do this: Zoom can be downloaded onto an i-phone or an iPad very easily, after which it is just a question of responding to the link that will be sent to you by email. See below for the service format….We will (if people wish to do this) be continuing on Wednesday 3rd March at 8.00pm.
The service below can be used alone, with no Zoom participation, if preferred.
A Celtic Service
of Evening Prayer
Minister: The evening mist rises from the ground to refresh our souls. The birds cease their songs. And in the darkening shadows of night, we come together in prayer.
Minister: Let us worship the Lord.
All: All praise to his name.
Minister: For the joys and blessings of this day, let us worship the Lord.
All: All praise to his name.
Minister: For our Lord Jesus Christ who brought light to the world, let us worship the Lord.
All: May we walk in his name.
Minister: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
All: The darkness in our lives brings us grief, and our sins are heavy to bear.
Minister: Hear what our Lord says:
“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
When Christ came on earth he lived as a man who knew both hardship and despair. He knows our need. Let us come to him now and lay our burdens at his feet, and confess those sins of which we are ashamed.
All: Eternal King and Father of all, in our pride and our weakness we have failed you and we are truly sorry. We are ashamed that through our own fault we have brought darkness and misery into the world. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour, who died for us, forgive us our sins. Illumine the dark corners of our lives with your spirit of light, and kindle once more the flame of your love in our hearts. Amen.
Minister: Eternal God, you have lowered the canopy of night and its gentle shadows cover us with your peace. May the dews of heaven heal our wounds and wash the tears from our eyes. And may the burning light of Christ banish for ever the darkness from our souls, that we may be at peace. Amen.
Minister: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
A candle may be lit
All: Eternal light shine in our hearts;
Eternal goodness deliver us from evil;
Eternal power be our support;
Eternal wisdom scatter the darkness of our ignorance.
Eternal pity have mercy on us,
That with all our heart and mind
And soul and strength we may seek your face
And be brought by your infinite mercy
to your holy presence. Amen.
At the end of the reading:
Reader: This is the word of the Lord:
All: Thanks be to God.
There follows a time of quiet reflection while music may be played
Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.
All: Christ, have mercy upon us.
Minister: Lord, have mercy upon us.
Let us pray:
Music may be played
Minister: I give thanks…..
I ask for guidance….
I pray for those I love….
I pray for those I have met today….
I pray for those who are suffering….
All: Our Father…..
All: Kindle in our hearts, O God, the flame of love that never ceases, that it may burn in us, giving light to others. May we shine for ever in your temple, set on fire with your eternal light, even your Son Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
Minister: Deep peace of the running wave to you;
Deep peace of the flowing air to you;
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you;
Deep peace of the shining stars to you;
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.
God’s blessing be yours,
And well may it befall you.