Sunday, November 15, 2020

Worship podcast links and other news...


Nov 15 Second Sunday before Advent
Morning Worship podcast   Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

On Zoom this week  email for links

Sunday Zoffee - coffee and Zoom chat (provide your own coffee!) Nov 15, 2020 11:15 AM 

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am. An informal service including Bible reading, prayer and a short talk.
Zoom Children’s Choir  Wed 5-5.30pm  Fun singing with Anne Le Bas
Zoom Adult choir  Wednesday 7.15 pm contact for the link.

Nov 15 Second Sunday before Advent

The Parable of the Talents
The Gospel reading set for today is the Jesus’ parable of the Talents, in which three slaves are given charge of varying amounts of their master’s wealth while he goes away. The first two put the money to work, and when he comes back are able to give him back double what he gave them, but the third, consumed with fear of losing it, digs a hole in the ground and buries it.

Our concept of “talents” – skills or natural gifts – comes from this story, but it’s important to realise that in the original parable, a talent wasn’t anything to do with the ability to sing or dance or juggle. It was a unit of currency, based on a weight of gold or silver, and, as I explain in the sermon, it represented a considerable amount of wealth. This is a story about treasure and what we do with it.

The Gospel reading is paired with an Old Testament reading from the book of the Prophet Zephaniah, who mourns the fact that his people seem to have taken their “treasure”, their relationship with God, entirely for granted. The result will be catastrophe. Zephaniah was writing just before Judah and its capital city of Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. They had already conquered many other nations, so his dire predictions were entirely realistic – and accurate, as it turned out. It’s a grim reading, but we can appreciate its honesty, and its refusal to sugar-coat a terrible time!

All Age ideas

Take some time each day this week to talk about the blessings the day has brought. You could make a blessings jar and write down the good things that happen, or put a marble, button or stone in it for every "treasure" you recognise you have been given.

A story video
I'm missing Story Church while the church is closed, so here is a story I told for Seal School. It's a story we explored in our "Meeting Jesus" sessions a few weeks ago, the story of St Peter's first meeting with Jesus. 

Would you like us to pray for you?
Email your prayer requests to:
Your email will be read by Anne Le Bas and Kevin Bright, the Vicar and Reader of Seal Church who will hold you in their prayers. 
This hymn was inspired by 1 Tim 1.17 “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” It was written by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908), who was born in Aberdeen, and subsequently ministered in the Scottish Church in Chadwell Street, Islington before becoming minister of various Free Church congregations in Scotland. He was moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 1893.
Originally the hymn’s last two verses were slightly different,

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.
All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.
The original verses make much plainer the intention of Chalmers in this hymn to remind the singer that though the Bible is important in shaping our faith in fact it is the direct experience of God in Christ which can really show us the heart of God. God can’t be tied down in words on a page. As a Free Church minister this would have been a very challenging idea for his, very Bible-based, congregation.
The tune, St Denio, is based on a Welsh folk song.
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most bless├Ęd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest — to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
’Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.
Prayer of the week
O God, whose love we cannot measure nor ever number thy blessings:
We bless and praise thee for all thy goodness,
who in our weakness art our strength, in our darkness, light,
in our sorrows, comfort and peace,
and from everlasting to everlasting art our God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end.
From Daily Prayer, compiled by Eric Milner-White and GW Briggs
This prayer begins with a reminder of the numberless blessings we are given. We often talk about “counting our blessings” and there is an ancient Jewish tradition of doing just that. In the Jewish faith there are specific prayers of blessing which are to be recited for almost every situation – on rising, on sleeping, before eating, when doing various activities. The prayer of blessing for bread, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth”  , is echoed in the words many Christian priests say when preparing the bread of the Eucharist.But in Jewish tradition, every moment can be a moment for thanksgiving. Some Jewish people try, literally, to count the number of blessing prayers they can say in a day. The aim is to make it to 100 before the day is out. Doing this helps them be aware of God in the midst of daily life and notice the  “treasure” in them, to go back to the theme of this Sunday’s Gospel reading.
It's a profoundly positive and hopeful practice, which doesn’t deny the truth of the challenges and sorrows we may face, but which balances that truth with the truth of God’s presence.
  • Why not try counting your blessings this week? You could find a jam jar, write each blessing on a slip of paper and put it in the jar, or put a small stone, bean or bead in it every time you think of something to give thanks for. How full will the jar be at the end of the day, or the end of the week?


Advent Windows
Advent begins on Advent Sunday, Nov 29, just two weeks away. Although we can’t do all the things we would normally do in the run up to Christmas Day this year, Christmas is certainly not cancelled at Seal.
One of the ways we’ll be preparing is through our Advent Windows. Twenty four Seal villagers have volunteered to decorate a window each through Advent, starting on Dec 1, each with a different Christmas theme. I will be advertising the address of each window week by week in this newsletter, on our website, blog and social media, and providing a round up, hopefully with pictures as we go along, for those who can’t get out in person to see the windows. Each window will include a letter of the alphabet, which, if you collect them all and unscramble them, will give you a message!
We’re really grateful to those who have volunteered to take part in this, and we’re looking forward to seeing our village Advent Calendar unfold as the days go by!
Sing Christmas and Advent colouring.
As well as our Advent Window project, I will be re-issuing two resources which people have found helpful in the past to help us ponder during Advent. The first will be a daily carol to sing along with, with some information about it and ideas for reflection. We won’t be able to sing carols in church together, as we would normally this year, so I thought people would appreciate a chance to sing all our old favourites at home through December. The second  Advent resource will be one of the daily colouring sheets, with a Bible verse to think about and space to colour in, draw or write your own response to it each day. Look out for the links to these in next week’s newsletter, or on the website etc next Sunday.

Prayer initiative – The voice of prayer is never silent.
Have you signed up to pray the Lord’s Prayer with us and for us yet? We’re aiming to get at least one person to pray on the hour, each hour, through the day, (or the night, if you are an insomniac). At the moment I have midnight, 6 am, 7am, 8am, 2pm, 7pm, 8pm and 10pm covered, so there’s still lots of space for more! It doesn’t matter, of course, if we have more than one person praying at the same time, but it would be lovely to feel, as the title of this project that “the voice of prayer is never silent”! Email me at to let me know when you will be praying if you would like to.
There’s a meditative video here to help you pray the Lord’s Prayer if it helps.
And finally...
Lockdown recipe book…
We’re still looking for recipes for our lockdown cookbook. At Friday Group this week there was some discussion about Nigella’s banana skin curry, in which banana peel replaces the aubergines originally part of the dish. Opinion was not divided – none of us fancied it, and we thought you probably needed to have Nigella’s eyelashes to distract people from the taste…If you have tried it, please let us know whether it is better than it sounds!
However, we are still looking for people’s favourite family recipes, the kinds of things that are a sure-fire winner in your household to include in our cookbook. You don’t have to be a great cook to send something in. Whether you are Nigella or Mrs Cropley, whether your cookery skills are reflected by the left hand cake or the right hand version, we’d love to hear from you! Please send recipes to


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