Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday worship links and other news...

The links to our worship this week are below.
Best wishes
Anne Le Bas

SUNDAY WORSHIP online - July 26: Trinity 7

Morning Worship Podcast        Morning Worship Service sheet       Morning hymn words
Evensong Podcast                    Evensong Service sheet                    Evensong hymn Words

Sunday worship in the church building
10 am Morning worship in church
Please note that the C of E now strongly advises worshippers to wear face coverings in the church building, although it is not mandatory.
4pm    Outdoor Church in the churchyard
(by the War Memorial)

Seal Church Zoom meetings this week:

Zoffee – Sunday chat at 11 am, hosted this week and next by Jess and Jonathan Heeb. If the link doesn't work, enter the meeting ID and password instead!
Meeting ID: 844 2580 6938
Passcode: 807082

No Wednesday Church, Children's Choir or Choir zooms this week or next.

Trinity 7

Today’s Gospel reading is the one set for the feast of St James (on July 25). As Kevin mentions in his sermon, St James is particularly connected with the town of Santiago (St James, in Spanish) de Compostela, in the Northern Spanish province of Galicia, where a shrine to him was founded in the ninth century. It is said that in 813 a shepherd saw a bright start shining   on a particular spot on a field, and that the remains of St James was found there. How did they know it was St James? According to legend (and there are a lot of legends about St James!) the coffin in which he was buried was decorated with scallop shells, the symbol of St James, who was one of the first fishermen called by Jesus. In fact many Roman coffins were decorated with shells, so the chances are that this is what had been found, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story!

How did St James, a Galilean fisherman, come to be in Spain? According to some of those legends, he had come to Northern Spain to preach the Gospel, without much success, early after the Ascension of Jesus, when the Apostles were sent out across the world with the good news. When he returned to Jerusalem, he was arrested and beheaded by Herod. (Acts 12.1 – this bit at least is Biblical!) Then the legends take over again, saying that his friends retrieved his body, and put it on a rudderless ship, entrusting its destination to God. It landed on the northern coast of Spain, wafted by the winds and guided by angels. There James’ friends asked the local ruler, Queen Lupa, if it could be buried, saying that they hoped he would be more welcome in death than he had been in life. She had the coffin put on a cart pulled by two unguided oxen, and said that wherever they stopped the body could be buried. Over the centuries, though, the place of burial was forgotten, until the shepherd rediscovered it.

Believe the stories or not, the shrine became one of the most important pilgrimage destinations, especially when it became impossible for pilgrims to get to Jerusalem. Pilgrims walked – and still do- from every corner of Europe and beyond, on what became known as the Camino de Santiago, the way to Santiago. Pilgrims wore a scallop shell, the symbol of St James, to show that they were on this special journey – the main routes to Santiago are still marked with a shell symbol.

Eventually the shell became the symbol of pilgrimage generally, and also often of baptism – shells or shell-shaped scoops are often used to pour the water – since baptism is the first step on our pilgrimage through life.

Pilgrims in art are often shown wearing a shell, and it also featured in church architecture and furniture, especially on pilgrim routes – which brings us to Seal Church.
Our church was on one of  the pilgrim routes to Canterbury, and we can still see evidence of that in the crosses etched into the first pillar you come to when you enter the church. But we have another reminder of pilgrimage in a more surprising place. The side table at the front of the church was made out of the remains of the medieval rood screen, which had stretched across the front of the church. When it was taken down, like many rood screens, after the Reformation, it was made into a piece of furniture, which remained in the family of the people who had made it for hundreds of years until, in 1947, it was presented to the church, where it has remained ever since. If you look carefully at the carving on it you will see scallop shells…

I wonder if that Galilean fisherman, brutally killed around 44 AD, could ever have imagined that his life would be remembered in so many ways, and have been the inspiration for so much prayerful travel?

Have you ever been on a pilgrimage – official or unofficial? Are there places which feel special to you for some reason, where you feel closer to God.
All Age Ideas and Resources
 If you can, why not join us for our Outdoor Worship in Seal Churchyard today, with a story from me, and some time to pray and chat at a safe distance. Bring a rug or a folding chair. 4pm for about 20 mins.

The reading in today's podcast is about St James, a fisherman who followed Jesus. You could make some fish - drawn, collaged, or however you liked - as you think about him.
His symbol is a scallop shell. Find some pictures of shells. How many different ones can you find.
People often go on pilgrimage to St James' shrine in Spain. A pilgrimage is a special journey. What special journeys have you gone on? Why were they special to you?

Not about St James, but here are some other resources for this week.
Prayer of the week
The Roncevalles Blessing
This prayer is prayed for pilgrims on the route to Santiago de Compostella

All-powerful God,
you always show mercy toward those who you love
and you are never far away for those who seek you.
Be with your servants on this pilgrimage
and guide their way in accord with your will.
Be a companion for them along their journey,
a guide at crossroads,
strength in their weariness,
defence before dangers,
shelter on the way,
shade against the heat,
light in the darkness,
a comforter in their discouragements,
and firmness in their intentions,
in order that, through your guidance,
they might arrive unscathed at the end of their journey and,
enriched with graces and virtues,
they might return safely home;
through Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.
Brother, Sister, let me serve you.

This lovely hymn reminds us of Jesus instruction to James, and to all his followers to love and serve one another in his name. 
Outdoor Church
Last week's Outdoor Church was a great success. Come and join us again this week for an informal time of all age worship with a story from me. We’ll meet at the War Memorial at 4pm, Bring a folding chair or a picnic blanket . It should last about 20 minutes. No Outdoor Church next week,  Aug 2, when I will be taking a break.

Please take our survey to help us plan for the next few months as we emerge from lockdown at Seal Church.

As Seal Church begins to hold services again, we want to make sure that we don't leave anyone behind. We know that everyone's experience over the last few months has been different, and everyone's needs will be different as we go forward.

To help us focus our resources of time and energy well, please would you complete one of the short surveys below. Please choose whichever seems the right survey for you, but you only need to complete one! Whichever survey you choose, it should take less than 10 minutes.

If you can come to worship physically
 in the church building (or could, even if you don't at present), please complete SURVEY A by clicking on this link. 

If you can't come to worship physically 
in the church building, perhaps because you live too far away, have a disability which prevents you coming, or attend another church as your main place of worship, please complete SURVEY B by clicking on this link.  You matter just as much to us, and we want to try to make sure we continue to provide opportunities for you to join in with our worship and other activities!

As well as helping us think about our future activities, I hope the survey will help you reflect on the personal impact of these past few months on you. If you'd like to talk further, or tell me more than the survey allows, please email or phone, or arrange for a safely distanced face to face chat. If surveys aren't your thing, please feel free to send me any thoughts you might have in an email or letter, but it would be really helpful if you had a look at one of the surveys to see what questions we are asking!

The deadline for completing the surveys will be Sunday Aug 9, but of course I hope that the conversation about this life-changing time for all of us will be a continuing one, so it will never be too late to get in touch! 
I will be taking time off from Tuesday July 28 - Saturday Aug 8 and won't be available for any church business.
However, there will be podcasts next Sunday as usual, and although I won't produce a newsletter like this one, the links will be emailed as usual.
Revd. Adie McCall will be taking Morning Worship in church at 10 am on Aug 2, but there will be no Outdoor Church that afternoon. Jess and Jonathan Heeb will be hosting the Zoffee at 11am on Aug 2, but there won't be any choir zooms, children's choir zooms, or Wednesday Church zooms until I return.
Anne Le Bas
And finally...
It has been good to be able to welcome at least some people back into the church building again, but I have to wonder whether some of them, used to the podcasts, are thinking this...
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