United Benefice of
St Mildred’s, Whippingham
St James’, East Cowes
9th August 2020: Ninth Sunday after Trinity
WORSHIP IN AN UNCOMMON SEASON
Initially at least our services are a straightforward communion service with no hymns – however, we have some introductory and closing music, as well as some extra music during the service. Communion is 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. Communion is administered in the pews to anyone unable to walk to the altar: please advise a steward on arrival if you require this. We are otherwise asked 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.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:
Give thanks for: the British Red Cross; businesses which are surviving; the Food Bank
Pray for: all whose mental health is suffering, especially due to the pandemic restrictions and uncertainties
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Please pray for: Richard Gray; Bob Hitchens; Dave; Reg and Eileen King; Beryl; Ena Young; Olivia; Brenda; Stuart; Andrew; Maureen & Gordon; Joy and Dave; Sarah and colleagues; Beryl Carpenter; Rosie and family; Barbara Blacklock; Hilda Bell; Paul & family
Give thanks for: our volunteers, all who maintain our buildings
PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED:
All who have died in the Beirut disaster; other accident victims
COLLECT FOR THE NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
revive your Church in our day,
and make her holy, strong and faithful,
for your glory’s sake
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 37 : 1-4, 12-28
Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekelsof silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 14 : 22-33
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
I was going to preach about the Genesis story today, and how God intervenes even in the most dysfunctional of families where brothers conspire to murder the youngest family member just because he is so irritating…and I wanted to say that even in the worst scenarios God is active and works for our good.
But then the disaster in Beirut happened, and suddenly my words sounded superficial and glib. Because here are thousands of people suddenly, through no fault of their own, made homeless, bereaved, lacking their entire food supply and utterly at their wits’ end – and that’s just those lucky enough to survive. We simply can’t imagine the scale of it. For all that we complain bitterly about the situation we are in here with the Covid-19 restrictions, we are utterly rich in comparison. Can I really say that God is active and working for the good of humanity in Beirut? What would that mean?
If truth be told, we are too close to the events to see the wider picture. We don’t know what will come out of the carnage, but we do know that the human instinct is first and foremost to help and restore some sort of normality. Nobody can bring back the lives that were lost, but in the face of such a huge disaster – and one apparently not caused by evil intent – complicated political divisions become far less important than humanitarian aid. So I would simply say that when humankind makes appalling and catastrophic errors, in their wake comes the constant and faithful presence of God – not only or even primarily in the mosques, churches or other places of worship, but out there in the human compassion and drive to make all well again. It is a compassion that is directly of God, working through human agencies to restore and heal.
It would be all too easy to conclude that the human race, beset by an accidentally created virus across the world and now a carelessly created disaster in Beirut, is doomed to destruction. We are a ship that has been fatally blown off course and, having blithely set out to cross deep but still waters, is foundering in the teeth of an almighty storm. It may be so: we have been complacent for too long about the wellbeing of our planet and the systems we live by, where corruption is rife and money is made at the cost of human lives. But there is one Being who is not defeated by the evils that beset us and who longs for us to call on him: the Lord God Almighty, known to us in Jesus Christ and revealed through the Holy Spirit, the life-giver of the universe. I bring you again to our Gospel reading, where the disciples are in fear of their lives when they catch sight of Jesus, impossibly appearing in the storm. They don’t behave like well-trained and disciplined people of faith: they are terrified. Only Peter has the courage to put his faith to the test. And even he isn’t convinced he is right: “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water”. If. He isn’t sure. But that’s okay. When we aren’t sure, God still calls us to come to him. And yes, we too get afraid and start sinking because we allow ourselves to be distracted by the horrors around us and so we take our eyes off our Saviour and begin to sink. At the last moment God holds on to us and – doesn’t take us away from the scene, but enters it with us. He is Lord of the chaos as well as Lord of the beautiful earth. He isn’t just there for the good times when it is easy to have faith: he is there, in charge, when things are hopeless and we can’t see our own way. Well might we worship him. Well might we step out of the boat at his bidding and fix our eyes on him. When we do so, we find that he doesn’t abandon the boat altogether and whisk us off to safety: he joins us and sets us on our course. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know where we are heading: all that matters is that we hang on to our faith and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
I close with the prayer of Sir Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
INTERCESSIONS(supplied by Robert Hall)
Heavenly Father, we pray for your Church: strengthen Christopher our Bishop, Peter our Archdeacon, Rev Susan and Revs Mike and Peter.
We also pray for our Churchwardens Rosemary and Colin, Peter and Robin, as well as all the volunteers who help in this Church. We ask you to give them guidance and wisdom as they go about their work in your name.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we pray for our Community, support them all in these troublesome times. We also think of all the people who have worked to support others, some professionals and some unpaid volunteers: give them all the strength and wisdom that they need, so that they too can return home safely to their loved ones.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, as the summer holidays arrive, we trust and hope that all the visitors that come to our beautiful Island stay safe. Let them enjoy all the Island and return to their homes, refreshed, safe and well. We also think of all the staff who help them enjoy this Island, that they too, will stay safe and well.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we think of all those people in this world that are not so fortunate as we are, some are starving, some are short of somewhere to live, some are not even in their own countries. Give them the strength that they need, and we trust that you will guide the world leaders in the art of peace, so that they will improve the way of life. We pray especially for the people of Beirut at this time.
We also ask you to give wisdom to all the organisations that are helping them at the hour of need.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
As the British Red Cross reaches 150 years’ service, we thank you for all the work and support they have given over the years. At the present time please sustain all the members who are helping out in this crisis. Please keep them safe and well.
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:
who gathered us here around the table of your Son
to share this meal with the whole household of God:
in that new world where you reveal the fullness of your peace,
gather people of every race and language
to share in the eternal banquet of Jesus Christ our Lord.
To conclude, rest quietly in God’s presence.
MASKS IN CHURCH
Sadly, from today it is compulsory to wear masks in church, unless you have a medical reason for not wearing one. Nobody is going to ask sensitive questions about this, but if you arrive without one you will be offered one, which we ask you to wear if possible. If you have borrowed a reusable mask, please leave it in a box by the exit so that it can be safely laundered for the following week or keep it for your own regular church use. If you have borrowed a single-use mask, please take it away to dispose of safely.
If anyone would like to volunteer to take reusable masks away and launder them, it would be much appreciated, as long as you can do this safely.
ST MILDRED’S CAFÉ
The café at St Mildred’s is open from 10.00am – 3.00pm, Mondays to Thursdays. Social distancing is in place, and although it is preferable for folks to eat outdoors, it is perfectly possible to have a table indoors for tea, coffee and cakes. The church is also open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. 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.
Foodbank needs your help!……
These are the items most urgently needed in order of priority for August 2020:
• Shaving gel, Toothbrushes, Shampoo, Shower gel
• Laundry tabs, Washing up liquid
• Male/Female Deodorant
• Instant Coffee
• Rice, plain white or brown
• Tinned Potatoes
If you can help, please buy an extra item when out shopping and either leave it at the supermarket collection point or bring it to church and leave it at the back. Thank you!
CREAM TEAS WITH MUSIC!
Cream teas are being served next Sunday from 3.00pm at St Mildred’s – do come along and support us! Live acoustic music is kindly supplied by Inspire (aka Jane and Nigel). We look forward to a delightful and relaxing afternoon. Many thanks to all involved in organising and providing both food and music.