Pewsheet for Week Beginning 29 March 2020

Lent, Pewsheets

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A Message for Mothering Sunday

From the Rector

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together
in perfect harmony.

In Oscar Wilde’s story, the Happy Prince of the title, is a gilded bejewelled statue set on a column overlooking a town, who develops a friendship with a migrating swallow.

‘Who are you?’ he said. ‘I am the Happy Prince.’ ‘Why are you weeping then? asked the Swallow; ‘you have quite drenched me.’ ‘When I was alive and had a human heart,’ answered the statue, ‘I did not know what tears were… everything about me was so beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was, if indeed pleasure be happiness. So I lived and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep.’ ‘What! Is he not solid gold?’ said the Swallow to himself. He was too polite to make any personal remarks out loud.

And so the story unfolds. The statue of the Prince persuades the Swallow to take the jewels that adorn him, one by one, to particular people in desperate situations around the city. The ruby from his sword hilt to the mother of a feverish boy, the sapphires of his eyes and finally leaf after leaf of the gold covering to the poor and the sick and the hungry. The dramatic tension in the tale is added to by the Swallow lingering in the cold North at the onset of winter instead of flying south to the warmth of Egypt. In the end there is nothing left for the Prince to give and the Swallow who has helped him in his acts of benefaction, dies from the cold. It is a poignant and touching tale. Self-sacrifice born out of compassion and pity and love’s response to love. The more the Prince is moved by the plight of his people the more compassionate he is, the more he gives of himself, until he has given all. Likewise the Swallow, as he becomes more and more engaged in the situation he finds himself in, the more obvious it becomes that he cannot quit, even if it means his own death.

The start of the list from the letter to the Colossians (chapter 3, verses 12-17), ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience’ is not all that remarkable but the implications, when we really think about them, are. These qualities are not qualified, not limited and may involve a cost.

Today, being Mothering Sunday, is a day to remember and celebrate the compassionate gifts of those who nurture and support, who prefer the needs of others before their own, especially the needs of the dependent and vulnerable. We celebrate mothers present, absent and departed and it is a celebration of motherly qualities. Not all those who have and show these qualities of compassion, kindness and patience are mothers and, sadly, not all mothers are motherly, so today we also pray for individuals and families whose relationships are fractured, whose lives are blighted by indifference, coldness, selfishness or any of the other painful attributes of wounded personalities that diminish rather than enhance the lives of those around them.

The joy and pain of love is present in the little scene described in today’s Gospel (Luke 2.33-35). Simeon with great presence of mind sees who it is who has been brought to the Temple, the very one promised of old, Messiah. And the implications of what that might mean slowly dawns on him, ‘destined for the falling and the rising of many’ he says to Mary. He also sees what it all will cost her.

The winter and spring months in the Church’s calendar focus on the coming of Jesus the Messiah; his birth, the revelation to the world of God with us, then as the story progresses we hear more and more of his mission and ministry of healing and mercy and abundant grace and now, half-way through Lent, we sense the rising tension, the harder times, the conflicts with authority, the frustrations and disappointments. Through it all, his Mother stands by him.

Scripture describes Jesus as being the visible image of the invisible God. We have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In him we see the qualities of God’s love in clearest definition.

We are encouraged to imitate these qualities and replicate them in our own lives, especially in these times of anxiety and uncertainty. ‘Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.’ Compassion, which is drawn from the deep well of God’s love, flows freely and is a powerful force for good in the world, it is a word of Christ, a word with costly implications as the Happy Prince and the swallow found, that, when written on human hearts influences our deeds and thoughts and is a word that ‘dwells in us richly’.

Let this be the word we hear today and in the coming week: ‘Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful.

Fr Michael

 

 

 

 

 

Our Response to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Coronavirus, Covid-19, Easter

March 17 14pm

Worth Parish will be conforming to advice given by Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in response to government guidelines, which means that all our public worship is suspended until further notice.
 
If you would like to come and privately pray in our buildings, our churches will be open where possible – with St Nicholas’ and the St Barnabas’ Narthex being open every day from around 9am to 6pm.
Obviously we have also cancelled all our events (book sale, Lent course, coffee shop etc) and groups (Messy Church, Toddlers etc) as well.
Prayers will be said by clergy on behalf of everyone and we are also investigating other online ways of worshipping and sharing prayer with the community. Please subscribe here to our mailing list to be kept informed of our updates.

 

March 17 11.30am

An update on our plans for Worth Parish will follow this afternoon. More information about precautions can be found on the Church of England’s website: churchofengland.org

Useful links:

 

March 16 11.30am
Our current response (March 16) to the global Coronavirus pandemic is based on advice given to bishops nationally and as a matter of necessity, to use the following measures to care for one another and worship while limiting the risk of spreading Covid-19:

  • During the peace and at other occasions, non-tactile greetings are used.
  • Altar rails have been removed, meaning there is no need to touch them and we stand for communion
  • The clergy use hand sanitizer before offering wafers at communion.
  • A small amount of wine is taken by the clergy on behalf of the congregation.
  • A collection plates is available at the back of church rather than being passed round.

This is a fast-moving situation and we will respond to any updated information. If further restrictions become necessary or if services are discontinued, we will indicate this on website, pewsheets, mailing list and other notices.

Pewsheet for Week Beginning 8 March 2020

Lent, Pewsheets

Click here for this week’s pewsheet.

Please note that if you are planning a visit, there will be no access to St Nicholas’ from Monday 16 March to Friday 3 April (7:30-18:00). We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

 

Message for March from the Bishop of Chichester

Lent

I was recently asked by a reporter whether, in the diocese of Chichester, Ash Wednesday has become more popular – like Christmas is.

My own experience of offering “ashes to go” outside Brighton station was very informative. Generally, people on their way to work were not very interested and sometimes hostile. 

People with a bit of Christian formation and experience were more pleased to see us. I sensed that for some of them, this was an invitation to re-connect with the season of Lent and the renewal of their faith. For others, it was encouraging, giving permission for the hidden, private practice of their faith to be affirmed by someone else in public.

The message of Lent is cheering and simple: God loves you and the Church is starting preparations to celebrate that fact at Easter.

But this year, in particular, the ashes with which we began this season of Lent offered a serious statement of protest.

As destructive fires raged in Australia, ash was everywhere. Our ashes were an identification with all who are the victim of climate change and environmental damage. But perhaps more importantly, ash was an even clearer symbol of the Christian call to repentance, a radical change of heart.

Extinction protests have certainly become more popular. But we might have more yet to do to make the Lenten discipline of repentance more popular within the Church, in order to become a catalyst for repentance in society and global change.

My hope and prayer is that we might emerge from this Lent with a greater sense of reverence for the earth and all its inhabitants. The celebration of Easter will then be marked by a different, freer, lighter way of living, rather than a return to damaging habits we had tried to give up for the time being.

+Martin