Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sunday Worship podcast links and other news March 14


The links to our audio podcasts, details of 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 safe!

Best wishes
Revd Canon Anne Le Bas

March 14     Mothering Sunday

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

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

In Church
10 am Holy Communion
6.30pm Evensong

Numbers limited to 35 people. Facemasks required unless medically exempt. Services are said, with recorded music – there is no singing. Sadly, this year, we won’t be able to distribute posies for Mothering Sunday as we normally do.

On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee - Sunday morning chat 11.15 

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am. An informal service including Bible reading, prayer and a short talk.
Zoom Children's Choir - Wednesday 5pm Fun songs, led by Anne Le Bas and Rosemary Pattullo

Zoom Adult choir  Wednesday 7.15 pm contact for the link.

You are welcome to join either group, and to swap between them if you need to. You will also be able to catch up with recorded presentations of the same material from Tuesday morning. 

Monday March 15 11 am

Monday March 15 Evening  7.30 pm

Mothering Sunday
Mothering Sunday, although a joyful day for some, can be problematic for many if, for example, they have lost a child, or a mother, or been unable to have children, or have had painful family experiences. Mercifully, Mothering Sunday isn’t just about mothers, though, as I explore in today’s sermon. I hope that, whatever your own story, today’s sermon will help us to give thanks for all the love we have been able to give and receive.
Usually we give out posies to as many people as we can in church – mothers or not. This year, because of coronavirus restrictions, that isn’t possible, but there are many other ways in which we can express our thanks to those who have “mothered” us, through words and actions. If you would like to spread the love this Mothering Sunday, a good way to do so is by donating to a charity which works with families in need. I often donate to the Mothers Union, who run an annual “Make a Mother’s Day” appeal, supporting families around the world with donations from £7 to £102 this year.  You can find out more here -
In today’s sermon, I explore the two Bible stories we hear today. In the Old Testament Reading, from Exodus Chapter 2, we have the famous story of the baby hidden among the bulrushes by his mother in an attempt to save him from the cruel order of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who has demanded that all Hebrew male children be thrown into the Nile. When he is rescued by Pharaoh’s own daughter, she names him Moses, which, according to the story, is derived from an Egyptian word meaning “I have drawn him out of the water”. I wonder how many babies have had, as their first bed, a “Moses” basket, named after the basket which protected this vulnerable child?
The Gospel reading is another story of a mother facing unimaginable pain. Mary stands at the foot of the cross, with a disciple usually identified as John, watching Jesus die. But Jesus, seeing their grief, forms them into a new family together. This story is the reason why depictions of the crucifixion, as in the window behind the altar at Seal, often show Mary and John at the foot of the cross. One of my favourites is a tiny painting, no bigger than a sheet of A4 paper, in the National Gallery in London. It is by Antonello da Messina (1430-1479), a Sicilian painter. Like most of his paintings this one is profoundly meditative – he is brilliant a painting people apparently doing nothing, but evidently deep in thought! In this case the crucifixion scene is deliberately uncluttered and still. Our eyes are drawn to the triangle drawn by Jesus, raised high on the cross, and the two figures of Mary and John, slumped in desolation beneath it. The space between the three of them seems vast – each is alone – emphasied by the blue sky with not so much as a single cloud. And yet they are obviously one group, with Jesus looking down at his mother, Mary looking across to John, and John looking up to his friend on the cross. Love can’t be defeated. These bonds can’t be broken even by this cruellest of deaths.

Here's the story of the baby in the bulrushes.
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. 
March 23rd marks a year since our country entered our first lockdown to address the spread of Covid 19. We are joining in with a National Day of Reflection organised by, among others, Marie Curie to help us Reflect, Connect and Support.
Reflect – hold a minute’s silence at midday, and shine a light of some sort in your window from 8pm
Connect – reach out to someone who has been bereaved in whatever way you feel is right.
Support – maybe create a colourful poster for your window, showing you are part of this reflection
A video/podcast reflection, available from all the usual church websites and social media feeds, lasting about 10-15 minutes. This will be released in time for the midday silence, and will include a video taken of Seal from the church tower.
It will also include your reflections, short thoughts which you can send us (details of how to do this below) of how this year has affected you. Everyone’s thoughts – adults and children – are welcome.  The video will end with the Lord’s Prayer led by Seal School children.
Rainbow ribbons, available on the Green in School Lane, to tie on the shrubs there in memory of all that has happened in the last 12 months. The ribbons will be available from early in the morning of 23rd March, and removed a week later.
A light in the window. At 8pm, it would be great to see lights of any sort, in your windows. 
We would love you to send in your reflections of the past year. Just one sentence please. These could include missing somebody who has died- missing your loved ones due to restrictions - feeling for somebody who has lost income and struggling to care for their family. OR it could be a positive reflection - maybe how you have enjoyed walks in the countryside which you haven’t taken for a long time. Whatever has been taking your time and your thoughts during the past year.
You can email your sentences to, or write them down and pop them in the box in Seal Supermarket by March 20th. There will be a group of people ready to record your thoughts and add them to the podcast. We will keep your contributions anonymous. 
Please don’t hold back. This has been a very difficult year for everybody. Your thoughts are important. Let’s get them out there so we may all reflect in a meaningful way. We look forward to hearing from you.
Marion Gilchrist and Jessica Heeb.
LENT COURSE – “What do you think?” If you aren’t able to join us for our Lent course looking at questions Jesus asked people,  you can take part by watching the slide presentations online, or download a printable version. The first three sessions are here. Session 1Session 2,  Session 3. The final session will be posted on the church website on Tuesday.  
This week’s question is “Who do you say that I am ” (Matthew 16.15). If you’d like to join us on Monday at 11 am or 6.30pm, the links are above, or you can email me, and I will send them to you direct.
Zoom Quiz
Our fourth of the fortnightly Zoom quizzes, organised by Frances and Annie Fish will take place via zoom on Friday at 7.30. These are free, and lots of fun. If you wish to join us, please contact Frances for your Zoom invitation. We would love to see you there.
For more community news, please see the Know Your Neighbours blog here
For the beauty of the earth
This hymn, which I think we have sung at every Mothering Sunday service in the time I have been here in Seal, usually accompanying the distribution of the posies (which we sadly can’t do this year), features in this morning’s podcast worship.
It was written by the marvellously named Folliot Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917) – people really don’t have names like they used to! He was only 29 at the time he wrote it, and it was prompted by a moment when he was utterly swept away by the glory of the world around him. He was a Classics teacher at Somersetshire College, a prestigious private school in a grand house in the fine Georgian street known as the Circus in Bath, (a fellow tutor there was Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone – he was already experimenting with it at the time he was there.) Pierpoint’s interests were rather more traditional than Bell’s though. He was influenced by the Oxford Movement in the church, rediscovering the hymns, prayers and traditions of the medieval church and enriching worship with colour, movement and ritual. He wrote a number of hymns, and translated ancient texts too, but this hymn is the only one which is regularly sung now.
His original version, from 1864, has no less than eight verses – God is praised for the whole panoply of earth and heaven in it - but only four or five verses are commonly sung now. It was intended as a hymn to be sung at Communion, which is why the “chorus” talks about “our sacrifice of praise” – some versions change this to “grateful hymn”.  The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word for thanks, and the Eucharistic prayer, during which bread and wine are blessed, is, essentially a prayer of thanks and praise. At the end of it, the priest lifts up the bread and the wine as a symbol of that “sacrifice of praise” we are all offering to God.
It is sung to a variety of tunes, but on our podcast today is sung to “England’s Lane” by Geoffrey Shaw (1879-1943), who, along with his brother Martin, composed many hymn tunes, anthems and other choral works in the early twentieth century. An entirely irrelevant, but interesting fact about him is that one of his sons, Sebastian Shaw, became an actor and played the unmasked Anakin Skywalker (AKA Darth Vader) in Return of the Jedi. I don’t know when that titbit of knowledge might come in handy, but never let it be said that I don’t keep you informed! (I hope you all realise that there will be an exam on all this trivia at the end of the pandemic…)
For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.
For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light:
For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild:
For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
This setting of the hymn is by John Rutter. 

A Song of St Anselm
Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride, 
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, 
in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life; 
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; 
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead, 
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us; 
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness, 
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

People sometimes think that calling God “Mother” as well as, or instead of Father is a modern thing, a ‘woke’ gimmick. As this prayer shows, though, it is very ancient. St Anselm (1033-1109) was Archbishop of Canterbury nearly a thousand years ago, a Benedictine monk from Aosta in what is now Italy, who was sent  to England in the reign of William Rufus who succeeded his father, William the Conqueror in a time of great conflict and turmoil. He was a prominent theologian, whose influence was profound on those who came after him.  He didn’t see anything dd, not only in describing Jesus as acting  like a mother, but even talking about him feeding us “with pure milk” – breastfeeding his children, in other words. This wasn’t at all uncommon in the Middle Ages – Anselm wasn’t unusual in writing things like this. No one thought it was strange, because they also saw that there were female images of God in scripture, like Isaiah 66.13 “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Other examples can be found in Hosea 13:8, Deuteronomy 32:11-12, Deuteronomy 32:18, Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 42:14, Psalm 131:2 , Psalm 123:2-3, Luke 13:34 …

The people who wrote the Bible  did not think of God as an old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud in the sky. They knew that God was beyond description, beyond imagination,and believed that both men and women were “made in his image” – somehow like him – as Genesis 1 put it. There was no more issue for them, then, in likening God to a woman than there was in likening God to a man (or a whole heap of other things, like rocks, shields, and assorted animals). God was beyond all human imagery, and yet reflected in all that was good in the world.
  • What do you think of Anselm’s prayer?

A moment of beauty from the natural world today. This amazing photo was caught as a murmuration of starlings was being filmed at Lough Ennell in Ireland. Colin Hogg and James Crombie were filming when the flock of starlings formed themselves into the shape of a giant bird.

No comments:

Post a Comment