Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sunday Worship podcast links and other news from Seal Church


Dear friends

The links to our audio podcasts, Zoom sessions etc are below, as usual. If you, or someone you know is in need of any kind, please let us know and we will do our best to help.  
Stay at home and stay safe!

Best wishes
Revd Canon Anne Le Bas

Jan 24 Third Sunday after Epiphany

Morning Worship podcast   Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

In Church
No services in church until further notice.

On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee - Zoom chat at coffee time
Time: Jan 24, 2021 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.

Epiphany 3
Today’s Gospel story is the story of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee, when Jesus turned a very great quantity of water into extremely good wine. That’s my kind of miracle…
As I explore in today’s sermon, though, it wasn’t really just a gift to those who like a glass or two of an evening. It is about the generosity of God, who can bring hope even to the most hopeless situations. It is a story which has been portrayed in art many times over the years – an excuse to paint a party, full of colour and incident. The miracle itself is usually happening in a corner of the picture, unseen and unnoticed by the celebrating crowd.

This picture by Veronese, which hangs in the Louvre, opposite the Mona Lisa, is their largest picture. Veronese set it in the Venice of his time, and populated the scene with people known to those who might first have seen it, including Suleiman the Magnificent, Titian, who is the musician in red in the centre of the picture, and Veronese himself, the musician clad in white. It also has a number of animals to spot – I have counted at least six dogs, a parrot, and a cat playing with one of the water jars on the right. The miracle itself is happening right under the noses of the guests – in the bottom right hand corner – but they are oblivious to it!
You can see a larger version by clicking on the picture, and there is a lovely meditative pan around the picture in this youtube clip.

All Age Ideas

  • The story of the Wedding at Cana is a great excuse to have a home-made party.
  • It's also a good moment to talk about what we feel we are running low on - energy, patience, love etc.Perhaps you could draw a jug and mark on it how much you think you have, and ask God to help you.
  • There's a video of the story here from St Albans Diocese Childrens work department. 
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. 

Great Garden Birdwatch. We were reminded at Friday Group Zoom that the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch is next weekend. It’s a survey which anyone can join in with, counting the numbers of different varieties of birds you can see outside during any one hour between 29 and 31 Jan I do it every year – a great way to relax, and you can do it from the warmth of your house, just looking out of a window! More details here
Marion Gilchrist passed along news of various community and Know Your Neighbours events happening or planned. If you aren’t on Marion’s email list and would like to be, you can contact her on
Marion writes: “Luci Napleton, who has been running her Dance For Fun classes in Seal Village Hall for some years, is running her classes on line. So, if like me, you are starting to feel a bit of fun exercise is desperately needed now, you can contact Luci to book your slot by emailing 
Luci will give you information of times, and send a joining form before you get started.
We have a few names already, of people interested in Zoomed quizzes, games nights, etc. If you are interested in joining in , please contact me, as we are hoping to get these up and running soon.
Finally, Chris is in the process of making some of her beautiful Valentine's and Easter cards. They will cost £1 each and proceeds will go to the church. If you would be interested please contact Chris by emailing . Photos are available.”
There are also lots of ways of connecting with others through things like our Zoffee, Zoom Church, Zoom choir and Friday Group Zoom. It is possible to join in with Zoom groups by phone, so you don’t need a computer to do so. Please ask me if you would like to know how to do this!
If you or someone you know is in need of a bit of support, or just a friendly chat, please do get in touch – don’t sit at home feeling lonely!

HYMN OF THE WEEK  Just as I am
This famous and much-loved hymn, like so many others, has a personal story behind it.   Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871) was the daughter of a silk merchant. In her early 30s she suffered an illness which left her permanently disabled, weak and depressed – she had been a gifted artist and writer of humorous verse.  She lived with her brother, a clergyman, and one day, frustrated at her inability to help with parish tasks, and struggling to know how she could be any use to God, she remembered the words of a visiting preacher, Dr Cesar Malan, spoken to her many years before, that she could come to God, “just as she was”. She wrote the hymn (originally a poem) that day.
Just as I am is sung to several tunes. Woodworth (1849) , the tune in the video above, by William Bradbury was the earliest and is the most popular across the world, but hymn books commonly used in the Church of England usually set it either to Misericordia (1875 Henry Thomas Smart) or Saffron Walden (1877) written by Arthur Henry Brown (in the video below). Saffron Walden is the tune we usually use at Seal.
Appropriately for the times we are in, in her later years, when she was not able to attend public worship, Elliott wrote, "My Bible is my church. It is always open, and there is my High Priest ever waiting to receive me. There I have my confessional, my thanksgiving, my psalm of praise, and a congregation of whom the world is not worthy – prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and confessors; in short, all I can want I find there."  
Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.
[Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.]
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive;
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
here for a season, then above:
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am to the tune "Saffron Walden"
Prayer of the week

Earlier this week, Jonathan Heeb sent me a selection of prayers which he had been translating into English, written by the Finnish Lutheran scholar Michael Agricola (1510-1557) . Jonathan said “He was trained by Luther and together with Olaus Petri brought the Reformation to Sweden/Finland.  He also gave Finnish a written form; his ABC book was the first book published in Finnish. His prayerbook was published in 1544 in Finnish, one of the first books published in that language.
Lord Jesus Christ, you gave us the stillness of night.  In it we may rest.  In it, the body regains its strength.  You created the night in your mercy to wash away all our sorrows and calm our worries. Let us this night rest happy, without worry.  Surround us in your completeness and protect us with your peace.  Amen
(Click on the picture to hear a recording of Jonathan reading the prayer in Swedish)

I did a bit more scouting about and found out that Agricola is known as the “father of literary Finnish”. He was born in Finland and lived through tumultuous times not only for Church, during the Protestant Reformation, but also for the Nordic countries, which had been united under one monarch from 1397 to 1523 in the Kalmar Union, but broke apart in Agricola’s lifetime. (Finland continued to be ruled by Sweden until the early 1800s, when Russia took control of it and established it as a Grand Duchy after wars with Sweden. Finland became independent in 1917, at the time of the Russian revolution.) 
Michael Agricola by Albert Edelfelt (1854-1900)Michael Agricola was only 7 years old when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses – arguments against Roman Catholic ideas – to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, in an attempt to reform the Church. The turmoil and splits that followed led to the spread of Protestant ideas across Europe. Agricola was ordained at a time when Lutheran beliefs had reached Finland, but were not yet widespread. His work as a scribe in the office of the Bishop of Turku is thought to have brought him into contact with the first Finnish student of Luther, Petrus Särkilahti, He was sent to Wittenburg to study under Luther and other reformers. When he came back he was appointed as a teacher at Turku cathedral school, which he apparently didn’t enjoy, calling his students “untamed animals”… Eventually, however, he became Bishop of Turku, appointed not by the Pope, but by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa, a supporter of the Reformation. Agricola was a key figure, therefore, in establishing the Lutheran church in Finland, and its first Lutheran bishop. He was married, and his son eventually became Bishop of Tallinn.

Agricola’s fame, though, rests as much on his writing and translating as on his leadership of the Church. He produced the first Finnish translation of the New Testament, among other works, and in doing so, had to work out a way of writing down the language, which had never been done systematically before. Swedish was Agricola’s mother tongue, though he was also fluent, possibly bilingual, in Finnish Finnish was a minority language and  it belongs to an entirely different family of languages from Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Working out how to represent its sounds in writing was no mean feat. His first book was the Abckiria, which included the alphabet, some spelling exercises and the Catechism in Finnish.
Agricola also wrote a number of collections of prayers and liturgies, from which the poem Jonathan has translated comes, so in a way he is the equivalent of Wycliffe, Tyndale and Cranmer all rolled into one.  I thought this prayer was particularly lovely – a comforting prayer for the end of the day. Many thanks to Jonathan for the prayer, and for the recording of him reading it in Swedish, as well as for sending me down the interesting rabbit-hole of the history of the Nordic Reformation, about which I knew almost nothing. Sincere apologies to him for any errors in the above account, which are entirely mine! I hope that your rest this night “washes away your sorrows and calms your worries”.
And Finally...
Tomorrow (25th) is Burn’s Night. If you have any Scottish ancestry and will be celebrating you might be interested to know that this celebration has now reached the edge of space, with the launching of a Haggis. No, I don’t know why either…

Haggis launched to the edge of space in celebration of Burns Night

Scots celebrate Burns Night on 25 January in celebration of the life and works of national poet Robert Burns.
By Manpreet Sachdeva, news reporter
Friday 22 January 2021  Pic: Stratonauts/Simon Howie  

In honour of Burns Night, a packet of haggis has been launched to the edge of space for the first time.
Scottish butcher Simon Howie worked with space education and research firm Stratonauts to launch the 454g haggis in Perth and Kinross this month. The haggis was attached to a weather balloon and soared more than 20 miles (107,293ft) above the Earth - equivalent to nearly four times the height of Everest.

After taking off from the Simon Howie headquarters in Dunning, it travelled over Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills before landing safely in Lauder in the Borders. Mr Howie said he wanted to start the year by "lifting the spirits of the general public" and was thrilled to work with Stratonauts "to take Scotland's national dish to new heights".
"Burns Night is one of the most important dates on the food calendar for us and we wanted to mark the occasion by sending the UK's best-selling haggis, the original 454g, to the edge of space," he said.
Mr Howie said his company had worked hard to increase production in the run-up to Christmas and now Burns Night, which Scots celebrate on 25 January to mark the life and works of poet Robert Burns.

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