Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday worship podcast links and other news. Feb 14

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

Feb 14th     Sunday before Lent

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

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE (available Wed Feb 17 from 8am) see website, blog and social media for link when available. 

In Church
No services in church until further notice.

On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee. Sunday morning chat on Zoom

Time: Feb 14, 2021 11:15 

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am. An informal service including Bible reading, prayer and a short talk.
No Zoom Children’s Choir  this week
Zoom Adult choir  Wednesday 7.15 pm contact for the link.

Sunday before Lent
Icon of the transfiguration of JesusToday’s readings, Elijah being taken up into heaven and the transfiguration of Jesus, give us a glimpse of the  glory of God just as we turn towards Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb 17th. In today’s sermon I explore a little of the background to the famous Spiritual, “Swing low, sweet chariot”, which was inspired by the Old Testament reading, which is a song of longing for God to come to our aid. As I say in the sermon, the song has its origins in the era of slavery in the USA, and is said to contain coded references to the underground railroad through which enslaved people escaped from the South to the North of the USA.
As the icon, right, dating from the 15th century, implies, sometimes the glory of God can be overwhelming. Peter, James and John are pictured at the bottom falling down in fear at the sight they have seen. Those of you familiar with Seal Church will know that the transfiguration is the subject of the stained glass window at the back of the church. I haven’t been able to get a good enough photo of it to share, but it follows the same pattern as this icon, although Jesus, Moses and Elijah are surrounded by a host of cherubic angel faces in our window – you have to look carefully to make them out, but they are there!


Here's an interesting video about the story behind "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and its links with the England Rugby teams.
  • In today's readings people see things that amaze them. What's the most amazing thing you've seen ?
  • Jesus' friends saw him shining with the light of God's glory. Make a shiny picture - you could find some shiny paper or foil - packaging or scrap paper would do. Make it as colourful and bright as you can.
  • Here is a video I made of another story from the Gospels about people who were amazed by what Jesus did.
The man who couldn't walk and his friends.
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. 

Ash Wednesday logoASH WEDNESDAY. We will not be able to conduct our usual Ash Wednesday service, which includes the imposition of ash on people’s foreheads. Instead, I have put individual cotton buds, swirled in ash, in plastic bags in the porch, stapled to a service sheet for an online service which will be available to watch on the evening of Ash Wednesday from 6pm onwards. The service sheet will also be available online. You will also be able to join in with the service if you don’t have any ash, so don’t worry if you aren’t able to pick some up.
LENT COURSE – “What do you think?” This year, our Lent course is going online, with four sessions on Zoom from Feb 22 on Monday mornings at 11 am, and Monday evenings at 7.30pm, lasting about an hour. We will be exploring questions Jesus asked people who came to him, starting with “What are you looking for?” The sessions will include input from me, discussion together and in breakout rooms, and prayer.
I will include the links for the Zoom sessions in these weekly newsletters each Sunday, but it would help me if you could email me on to let me know if you plan to join in so that I know roughly how many to expect – I will then also send you an email with the link in it on Mondays.
The material in the Zoom sessions will also be available in recorded videos on Tuesday morning each week, so you can follow the course on your own, or with friends. There will also be a printable version, available next Sunday, which will be downloadable from the website. I will send out printed copies with next week’s newsletter.
Some community news from Marion - email to be added to her newsletter email list.

Tuesday morning 10.30 - Luci Napleton's Dance For Fun class. Contact Luci for joining instructions and more information
There is more information about Luci's commitment to dancing for wellbeing, below.

Wednesday 17th February - Seal Village Hall AGM 7pm - please let Marion know,, if you would like an invitation, and your email address will be passed on.

Friday 19th February - 2nd Fun Quiz 7.30pm. Please contact Frances Fish - 
This was great fun last week, and I'm sure there will be more of you wishing to join in this week. It is a great way to spend a dreary lockdown evening, in the virtual company of others! Thank you to Frances and Annie Fish for organising these events for us.

Talking of Annie Fish, we should mention this!
Annie is doing a walk to raise money to support Alzheimer's Society. Find out more about the walk, and how to sponsor Annie,at

There are still Easter cards and gifts available from members of Seal Church, with proceeds going to the Church. Please contact or have photographs of available items.

Derek is still doing a great job of resurrecting old laptops, and preparing them for the use of pupils at Seal School, to use at home. If you have a device which you no longer use, and feel you could donate it, please contact me, and I will arrange to collect and deliver to Derek.

We are still ever hopeful of producing a Lockdown Recipe book, where we can share our favourite recipes that have been faithful friends, or just unplanned gems, that have got us and our families, through lockdown. Please send me your recipes, with just a sentence or two, about how your recipes have been invented, or helped you through this time.

And now, I asked last week what you are up to right now. If you have been taking part in any activities which you feel might help motivate others, please let us know. I think this lockdown, many people have been saying how much more difficult it has been to get motivated to do anything, and how home schooling, for instance, has been even more challenging this time around. This is hardly surprising, when we consider how much beautiful weather we enjoyed during the first experience. I know the snow may have been an interesting diversion for the children for a week or so, but there is only so much time we can spend in the bitterly cold winds, even if we are sledging! Please, please, share your thoughts and ideas.

Jesu , Lover of my Soul
My guess is that this is a Marmite sort of hymn. Some will love it; others find its minor key and solid, serious nature a bit grim. Personally, I’m in the first camp, and, of course, it all depends on how it is sung. (Clue: it needs to be sung with a good deal of welly, otherwise it turns into an interminable dirge!)

It was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788), one of many thousands he wrote, and there are various apocryphal stories about its competition. Wesley, it is said, either wrote it after narrowly avoiding death in a storm at sea, after watching a bird fly through his open window to escape from a hawk, or after taking cover in a farmhouse from a disgruntled mob who didn’t like his preaching, escaping through an open window at the back of the house and hiding under a hedge. In other words, we really don’t know what prompted him to write it, but we’ll have a great time thinking up stories, probably because those who love this hymn have found it echoing in their own lives in times of trouble of their own, and assume it must have been written in similar circumstances. The original has five verses, but only these three are usually sung.
The tune, “Aberystwyth” to which this is now almost always sung in the UK, was written by Professor Joseph Parry (1841-1903 - left), who was the first head of music at University College Wales, in Aberystwyth, now Aberystwyth University. Born into a large family in South Wales, he left school at the age of nine to work in the local coal mines, and then in the ironworks where his father worked. He emigrated to the USA to work in an ironworks there, but learned music from his fellow workers, (as well as learning to read and write) and began to compose. Eventually his compositions began to win prizes at Welsh music festivals – Eisteddfodau – both in the USA and in Wales, and he was offered a scholarship to study music at university, and went on to be the first Welshman to gain a doctorate in music at the University of Cambridge. He allegedly composed a hymn tune a week, alongside all his other work!
Some organists play Aberystwyth with what is called a “Tierce de Picardie” on the last chord– turning the sad sounding minor chord into a much more positive major one, giving it a “happy ending” but some musicians are rather sniffy about this and leave it as it is, minor to the end.  (The meaning and origin of “Tierce de Picardie” – the Picardy Third in English – is much disputed. It may have nothing to do with Picardy, but derives from an Old French word “picart” meaning “sharp”.)
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.
Plenteous grace with thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

Prayer of the week

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                             So I did sit and eat.

This lovely poem/prayer by 17th century poet and clergyman, George Herbert, celebrates the greatest love of all, the love of God, so I thought it was appropriate for this St Valentine’s Day. This day can be painful for those who haven’t found the romantic love they long for, or have lost someone they loved or experienced relationships that have gone sour or even been toxic and dangerous. It’s unrelenting hearts and flowers can feel like a slap in the face. The origin of St Valentine’s Day are shrouded in myth – some say it is linked to the time when birds pair up and begin to build nests – and stories of the saint whose name it bears are obscure in the extreme. (Most people seem to forget the “Saint” in the day, just making it Valentine’s Day, and the children in a school where I did an assembly once on St Valentine were very dubious about my insistence that there should be a saint involved in it at all, reluctant to believe me!). A proper celebration of this day, though, shouldn’t limit itself to romantic love, but celebrate love in all its forms, love which has its origins in the love of God for us. “We love because God first loved us” as the Bible tells us (1 John 4.19)
Herbert’s poem imagines God as the host at a banquet, which Herbert doesn’t feel worthy to attend, but God insists, and eventually Herbert gives way, “and I did sit and eat”.
  • Whatever St Valentine’s Day means to you, how can you celebrate the earthly and heavenly love you receive, and give, today?
And Finally...
Like many other sectors of society, the Church of England is looking forward to the future, and wondering what lies beyond this pandemic, as we all do. Let’s hope any discussions, at national or local level, will be based on more than Dave Walker’s suggestion below…

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