United Benefice of

St Mildred’s, Whippingham

and

St James’, East Cowes

9th January 2022 : The Baptism of Christ

CURRENT AND FUTURE WORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

Please continue to be vigilant and to observe social distancing measures at all times. We need to be particularly wary of the omicron variant, which is highly contagious. At present numbers in church remain unrestricted, but if this changes we will give details on the pewsheet. IT IS NOW COMPULSORY TO WEAR A MASK IN CHURCH, although this may be removed for singing.

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: doctors and nurses; paramedics; the ambulance service

Pray for: all those affected by the new Covid variant

PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN NEED:

Emergency prayers needed for: Kay; Sandra; Sandie; Ruth M; Paul and family; William and family

Long term, please pray for: Charles; Stuart; Alistair; Lusia; David; Reg and Eileen; Irene and Henry; Richard G; Bob; Beryl; Joy and Dave; Margaret; the family of Emily and Sammie; Richard S; Peter; Mike; Marie; Carol T; Betty B.

Give thanks for: all people involved in producing and administering the Covid vaccines

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:

The Rt Rev Desmond Tutu; all those whose anniversary falls at this time.

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

COLLECT FOR THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

Eternal Father,

who at the baptism of Jesus

revealed him to be your Son,

anointing him with the Holy Spirit:

grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,

that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;

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

NEW TESTAMENT READING – Acts 8 : 14-17

14 When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 After they went down there, they prayed for them so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit because he had not yet come down on any of them. 16 (They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

GOSPEL – Luke 3 : 15-17, 21-22

15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptise you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.”

21 When all the people were baptised, Jesus also was baptised. As he was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

From the book of Acts

In this passage, Peter and John pass on God’s gift of the Spirit to the newly baptised Samaritans. Why do you think they needed to do this? Was it enough for the Samaritans simply to undergo baptism, or did they require help in knowing what to do with the word of God once they had received it? Are there parts of Christian scripture or teaching that you find difficult to understand or live out? How might you ask for the Spirit’s guidance?

From the Gospel of Luke

John the Baptist is very eager to point out that he is not the Messiah, and that through his ministry he is pointing the way to someone far greater than himself. Are there periods in our spiritual lives when we focus our attention too much on ourselves, rather than directing it towards God? Might there be times in our work or social lives when we are tempted to ‘hog the limelight’, or to take all the credit for something without acknowledging the role of others? How could we learn from John’s example here?

The descent of the Holy Spirit is signified by the image of a dove. Aside from the reasonable possibility that an actual dove was flying past at Jesus’ baptism, what is the meaning of this particular bird being chosen as the symbol for the Spirit? Might it be asking us to remember the story of Noah, and the dove that brought hope of dry land after the hardships of the flood? How can we use this allegory of a dove as a measure in our own lives to help us discern which of our thoughts and feelings come from the Spirit and which do not?

INTERCESSIONS

Let us bring our prayers to our loving God who creates, forms, and redeems us and who calls each of us by name.

We pray for God’s Church and his people who are precious in his sight and honoured by him. May we reach out to all who need to know the redeeming love of God in their lives.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for men, women and children throughout the world who live in the destructive fires of violence, oppression, and injustice. May the Holy Fire of God protect them and bring them to safety and peace.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We pray for all who are passing through deep waters of suffering in body, mind, or spirit. May they know the presence of God alongside them, so they are not overwhelmed by their pain.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

We remember with thanksgiving all who have passed through the waters of death and are now in the eternal presence of God. May they be at peace through the redeeming love shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Beloved Son and our Saviour. At this time, we remember especially your servant, Desmond Tutu.

Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer

Lord God, we thank you for hearing our prayers and for loving us and all those for whom we have prayed. Help us to trust you and to be ready to play our part in bringing your kingdom of justice and peace into 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:

Post Communion

Lord of all time and eternity,

you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father

in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son:

by the power of your Spirit

complete the heavenly work of our rebirth

through the waters of the new creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

To conclude, either follow the links below to our YouTube channel or simply rest quietly in God’s presence.

In the bleak midwinter – AMHS 68 – YouTube

What child is this – HON 542 – YouTube

***

REMEMBERING DESMOND TUTU: FUNERAL ADDRESS BY BISHOP MICHAEL NUTTALL

“What does the Lord require of you but to pursue justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

In Desmond Mpilo Tutu this threefold cord was interwoven in a long, lived authenticity. That is why we loved him and respected him and valued him so deeply. Small in physical stature, he was a giant among us morally and spiritually. His faith was authentic, not counterfeit or half-hearted. He lived it, even at great cost to himself, with an inclusive, all-embracing love. His friend, Nelson Mandela, put it perfectly when he said: “Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.”

I come here today, in my octogenarian years, sensitive to the awesomeness of the occasion, which is likely to catch the tearful and thankful mood of this our nation and of the entire world. I come in response to the expressed wish of my archbishop and friend, for it was he who asked me, some years ago, to do this at his funeral. How could I refuse such a request, such an honour?

First, let me say a few words to the chief mourner among us. My dear Leah, Gogo Emeritus of our church, distinguished member of its Order of Simon of Cyrene, you and I are in a close solidarity in the loss of a much-loved spouse. I therefore know something of what you must now be going through, though each person should be free to grieve in whatever way is most appropriate for them. Many times you wiped away the tears of your husband for, as we all know, he cried very easily and, in the life of our country, both past and present, he had much to cry about, not to mention the wider world which seems in many ways to be tearing itself apart. Today we are here to try, in a small way, to wipe away your tears, though tears are, of course, a very necessary part of our grieving. Allow me to give you, and your family, a comment which was sent to me for my comfort and which I found helpful within the strange twists and turns of my grieving:

“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” (Earl Grollman)

Desmond and I became close in an unlikely partnership at a truly critical time in the life of our country from 1989 – 1996, he as Archbishop of Cape Town and I as his deputy when, as Bishop of Natal, I was elected by my brother bishops to be also what is called “Dean of the Province”. I was asked during a pastoral visit we made to Jerusalem what this cumbersome ecclesiastical title meant. My answer, on the spur of the moment, was that it meant “number two to Tutu”. The nickname stuck, but more importantly, at a deeper level our partnership struck a chord perhaps in the hearts and minds of many people: a dynamic black leader and his white deputy in the dying years of apartheid; and hey presto, the heavens did not collapse. We were a foretaste, if you like, of what could be in our wayward, divided nation.

“What does the Lord require of you but to pursue justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” Allow me briefly to unpack each of these qualities in relation to our esteemed Archbishop.

Pursue justice

Desmond was not on some crusade of personal aggrandisement or egotism, though he often and disarmingly admitted that he loved to be loved, and what is wrong with that? Do we not all love to be loved? It is a human craving from the moment we are born. But no: Desmond’s response to grave injustice came from the depths of his being and often in response to what he called ‘the divine nudge’. Listen to what his favourite prophet, Jeremiah, wrote: “There is in my heart, as it were, a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9) That is how Desmond Tutu lived and ministered in a situation of systemic and often brutal injustice in his own beloved country. Nor did the fire in his breast die out in his years of retirement and old age, though he was thrilled with the coming of democracy in 1994. “Watch out, watch out, watch out!” he warned sternly when the new government stalled expediently in giving a visa to his friend and fellow Peace Laureate, the Dalai Lama, at the time of the Arch’s 80th birthday celebration. He was not similarly turned down when he went to Dharamsala in India for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and, together, they produced a remarkable book called “The Book of Joy”, which is a spiritual classic for our time and, indeed, for all time: a book crafted by deep and humorous conversation between a Buddhist and a Christian, and compiled beautifully by Douglas Abrams who is a Jew. There is a profound pursuit of a just order in this fine product, namely a religious just order amidst so much shameful intolerance in today’s world. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Love kindness

This was our ‘Arch’ at his very best. His was not a harsh, ideological quest for justice. Always it was grounded in mercy, in ‘hesed’ (to use the Hebrew word), in an enduring loving-kindness: the gentle touch, the forgiving heart, the warm smile – ah yes, the warm smile. Remember his fine book on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that seminal body which he chaired; it was titled “No Future without Forgiveness”. How could someone who had suffered so much hostility and disdain in his own country settle for such a conviction, such magnanimity? It was because all that he stood for and strove for was undergirded by a spirit of mercy towards everyone. Did you ever receive from him a phone call or a gift of flowers, a card, a handwritten letter or an email? When my wife of 57 years died on All Souls Day, 2016 he was on the phone to me, despite great physical frailty, to comfort me and to offer, as he would say, a little prayer from the heart. Desmond was quite at ease praying on the telephone with others. Actually, he prayed anywhere and everywhere, not only in churches and chapels. He so wanted to be at Dorrie’s funeral and was truly pained that ill-health prevented him. The flowers, of course, arrived.

Walk humbly with your God

Here is the mystery of the interior pilgrimage of the soul. There were three Ps about our Archbishop; he was the prophet, the pastor and the pray-er. What many perhaps did not realise was that the prayer undergirded, guided and prompted all the rest. A daily Eucharist was his custom, regardless of the circumstances; I remember having one with him in Frankfurt airport when we waited for a connecting flight. It is utterly appropriate that his funeral service today is immersed in what we call a Requiem Eucharist, and it would be his wish that all of us be free to receive the sacred body and blood of Christ at it. Desmond was not only immersed in the liturgical prayer of the church; he was also up at four in the morning each day to pray – to meditate, to contemplate and to intercede. In his intercessory work, he would engage in what Leah called a Cook’s Tour around the whole world. In his prayer the world was his parish, and surely that was appropriate for a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize.

So I give you, in memory of this holy and very human man, this humane leader, a threefold cord which we too can try to emulate: pursue justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.

I conclude this intertwined sermon and eulogy with the words of a personal Praise Song, looking back on our Arch’s remarkable life and held in awe by his going from us now:

Yo!
Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Born and raised where the gentle Batswana live,
Land of the cameeldoring tree and the wide, wide vlakte;
his mother a domestic worker, his father a teacher;
Polio survivor, T B survivor, visited unforgettably in hospital
by one Trevor Huddleston C R,
Bright child, living in the shadow of the great injustice.

Raised through sickness to a priestly calling,
finding the fire in your breast that prevented silence.
Articulate scholar, prophet, pastor, pray-er,
preacher of passion with arms stretched out,
diminutive person making presidents tremble.
Small person of the past becoming great in the unfolding purposes of God.

Yo!
Mbishobhi,
Learning the art in mountain kingdom, being greeted ‘Khotso, Ntate’,
visiting parishes in Basotho blanket astride a hardy horse.
Learning the harder way in the city of gold,
the bitter irony of red carpets abroad and icy stares back home.
Learning to lean on God and the safety valve of an irrepressible, self-
deprecating humour.

Voice of the muted multitude, son of the dark mysterious land,
Called at the height of crisis to the Cape of Storms to transform it into the Cape of Good Hope;
Mbishobhi Omkhulu!

Take rest at last, lala kahle, our dear friend the Arch.
You have tended the wounds of noble strife, the wounds of Ubuntu;
enter now into the full embrace of the great and generous God you served.

***

EPIPHANY CAROL SERVICE AT ST MILDRED’S – TODAY!

Today at 4pm, there will be a Service of Nine Lessons and Carols for Epiphany at St Mildred’s. Music will be sung by the liturgical choir Cantus Vesperi, who kindly provided us with a carol service at St James’ last year.

ST MILDRED’S COFFEE SHOP

The New Year opening hours for the coffee shop at St Mildred’s will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10.30am until 3pm, every week (government Covid regulations permitting).

ST JAMES’ COFFEE MORNING

This will be happening on Tuesday 18th January, 10am at St James’ church hall. All are welcome!

PEW SHEET ARRANGEMENTS

Pew sheet arrangements continue to be handled by Stuart. Please can any prayer requests, intercessions, and other notices be sent to him each week by Wednesday evening. His contact details are stuart_mckerracher

ONLINE PHOTO OF ST MILDRED’S REREDOS

I have received an email from Mr Roger Mechan, a keen septuagenarian photographer who has taken a rather lovely picture of our reredos and is selling framed copies as gifts available online. For those able to access the internet, you can find sight of it at this link:


https://shop.photo4me.com/1079418/framed-mounted-print?o=21&e=12&s=309&u=in&share=true

Roger is donating profits to the church, so if you are still looking for luxury Christmas presents, why not have a look?

BROWSERS LIBRARY

Have you been along to the Browsers Library at St James’ yet? Do drop in on Saturdays from 10.00-12.00 for a coffee, choose a free book, buy a jigsaw or just have a socially distanced chat.

DOG WALKING VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED

The Cinnamon Trust is the national charity whose wonderful volunteers help people over retirement age and those in the latter stages of a terminal illness by offering all kinds of free pet care. They are looking for volunteers to help a resident of East Cowes whose delightful dog would love to go for a good walk.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can download a volunteer registration form from their web site appeals. If you would like to have a more in-depth chat about becoming a volunteer, please call during office hours (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) on 01736 758 701.

FOOD BANK

There is still an urgent need for these items, if you can help:

Long life milk

Long life juice

Custard

Sponge puddings

Coffee

Due to the generosity of the public, we have plenty of:

Cooking sauces

Baked beans

Tinned vegetables

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned fish

Tinned meat

Tinned soup

Pasta

Cereal

Tea

Rev Susan