Sunday, May 02, 2021

Sunday worship podcast links and other news - May 2


May 2  Easter 5

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

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

Don't forget that you can also listen to a shortened version of the podcast by phoning 01732 928061 -  if you know someone who doesn't "do" the internet, please pass on the number to them. It costs the same as any phone call to a Sevenoaks number.

In Church

10 am Holy Communion with a hymn outside the church after the service.

6.30pm Evensong (Said)
Numbers limited to 35 people. Facemasks required unless medically exempt. Services are said, with recorded music – there is no singing in church, but we do now have permission to sing outside, so there will be a congregational hymn at the end of the 10 am service outside.


On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee - Sunday morning chat  11.15 am

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am. An informal service including Bible reading, prayer and a short talk.
Zoom Children's Choir Wednesday 5 pm Fun singing with Anne Le Bas. Any child welcome.

No Zoom Adult choir this week.

Fifth Sunday of Eastertide
Acts 8.26- end, John 15.1-8
Kevin Bright is preaching on our podcasts and in church this Sunday, so I look forward to listening to his “take” on this week’s readings, and I’m sure he wouldn’t thank me for stealing his thunder and saying too much about them in advance!

A manuscript from the Menologion of Basil, showing Philip and the EthiopianSo, a more general comment on the readings for this season of Eastertide. You may have noticed that the first reading each week since Easter Day has come from the Acts of the Apostles, the New Testament book which tells the stories of Jesus’ followers after his Ascension as they began to take his message out into the world – “Apostle” simply means someone who is sent out. It’s a sequel to the Gospel according to Luke, which seems to have been written for a person called Theophilus, though that may just be a literary device; Theophilus just means “Lover of God”, so it might have been intended for a more general audience. We don’t know who wrote the books either. Both books were traditionally ascribed to Luke, based on the fact that Acts speaks of St Paul’s meeting with a Macedonian by that name, who then joins Paul on his travels, and after that point a number of times the text say “we” went here or there, rather than “Paul”. There’s a lot of debate, though, about whether that person really was the writer of Acts, because his account doesn’t necessarily agree with Paul’s own account of his travels in his letters.
Authorship aside, the Acts of the Apostles presents a vivid picture of the spread of Jesus’ message around the Mediterranean, by people like St Peter, St Paul, and, in today’s reading, St Philip. It tells a story of courage and joy, as well as struggle, as the early Church – just a group within Judaism at this time -  tries to work out how to live out the Gospel and support one another, inspired by the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to believe in the risen Christ? What difference does it make? All the difference in the world, his followers discover! The reason why readings from Acts feature so largely in Eastertide is that we too should be asking these questions. How does our faith affect our lives? What should our “Acts” be, if we call ourselves Christian? 

Together at Home sheet, linked to today's Gospel reading in which Jesus describes himself as the True Vine. His life and lovfe flows through us like the sap in a grape vine, giving us life.

  • Look around outside and find some new shoots growing on trees and bushes. What would happen if a branch was broken off? (but don't do it!) Jesus says that we need to stay close to him and to one another, so that we can get the help and support we need. Who supports and helps you? 
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. 

What is your favourite hymn? If you come to our Sunday morning services, you will know that we have been able to sing a hymn at the end of each 10 am service since Easter, which has been a great joy! I’d like to invite anyone who comes to the 10 am to let me know what hymns you’d like to sing,so I can make sure we are singing people’s favourites. Apologies that I can’t make the same offer to those who listen to the podcast, as we are limited by the list of hymns which the good folk at St Martin in the Fields have provided, which is limited by copyright restrictions. You’re welcome to let me know what you’d like to hear, however, and I will do my best to include it, (or feature it in our Hymn of the Week in this newsletter). Email, with “hymn request” in the subject line.

Our ANNUAL PAROCHIAL CHURCH MEETING will be held via Zoom on Sunday May 30. It will be possible to join this meeting by phone if you do not have a computer. I will provide the details the Sunday before the meeting. Only those who are on the church Electoral Roll are allowed to vote at this meeting, so if you are not on the roll, please ask me, or the Electoral Roll officer, Wivine Turner, for a form to join. If anyone is interested in coming onto the Parochial Church Council, which is responsible for making decisions about Seal Church, please let me know.
This year Christian Aid celebrates 75yrs. since its formation. The focus of fundraising will concentrate on the effects of climate change, particularly in Kenya. 
With partners Christian Aid aims to enable schemes to relieve hunger, water shortages and other worst outcomes. 
In spite of the difficult conditions of the pandemic last year in 2020, £4 million was raised. 
Ideas for fundraising, and support by donation can be found at This includes a Quiztian Aid online quiz on Sat. 8th May at 7pm!  
Or for further information contact
SEAL PARISH COUNCIL ANNUAL ASSEMBLY takes place via zoom at 7.30pm on May 5th. Please contact for your invitation.
We have managed through Zoom to hold our KYN meeting on Thursday evening, to decide, finally, on how to spend our funds. It has been agreed to purchase some benches for the recreation ground, to form a horseshoe type shape, to seat several people safely, for social purposes, to echo our Talking Village ethos in Seal. Many of you gave your opinions, which we have truly valued, and we feel we have managed to take your views on board as much as possible. The other thing we will be doing, is planting a tree (site to be agreed later), to commemorate the very difficult months we have all experienced due to Covid. Thank you to all those that gave up their time to attend this meeting.
Seal Village Allotments are planning to hold their Spring Plant Sale on Saturday May 22nd from 12pm - 3pm. There will be a wide variety of both vegetable and flower plants for sale suitable for gardens and those with more limited space. We are also hoping to provide our usual refreshments of tea, coffees and homemade cakes however this is dependent on the covid restrictions at that time.
This will all take place on the allotments in Childsbridge Lane.
FRIDAY GROUP - This group is meeting weekly on Fridays from 11am on the recreation ground in groups of 6. When the weather is really bad (this is a very tenacious group!) you can obtain a zoom invitation by contacting
He who would valiant be/Who would true valour see

John Bunyan writing Pilgrim's ProgressJohn Bunyan, (1628-1688) the author of this week’s hymn of the week didn’t set out to write this as a hymn. It was originally part of his  famous work “A Pilgrim’s Progress”.  The story’s protagonist, called Christian, sets out from his home, the “City of Destruction” and eventually, after many trials and setbacks, comes to the “Celestial City”.
Bunyan was born and lived most of his life in Bedfordshire, and, as his dates suggest, his life was marked by the political and religious tumult of the Civil War.  He was the son of a tinker, and Bunyan also learned this trade, travelling around mending pots and pans. According to his own account “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”, he led quite a wild life as a young man, and served for a time in Cromwell’s Parliamentary army, but partly through the influence of his pious first wife, he went through a profound religious re-orientation. He joined a Non- Conformist church, the Bedford Meeting, during the time of the  Cromwell’s Commonwealth, and became a preacher, but at the Restoration, when Charles II came to the throne, Non-conformist churches were banned. Everyone had to go to their C of E parish church.  This was rooted in a fear that the Puritan ideals of Cromwell might be  reignited  if people gathered in groups that weren’t under the control of the  state.  Bunyan refused to give up his religious convictions and was imprisoned in Bedford County Jail for  twelve years until the “Conventicles Act” was repealed in 1672.  During his imprisonment his second wife, whom he had married after his first wife died, had to look after her four step-children, including one who was blind, with virtually no income, other than what John could earn by making shoe laces in prison. It was during this time that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, and it’s portrayal of the struggles of the soul are obviously rooted in his own story.
Bunyan’s original version   of the poem was eventually extensively re-written and popularised by Percy Dearmer and Ralph Vaughan Williams in the early 20th Century.  For  some reason Dearmer excised the colourful references to “hobgoblins and foul fiends” which I think is a pity, but  perhaps it was  considered a bit over the top for20th century sensibilities. I leave it up to you to decide which version you prefer! Bunyan’s original words are still  included in Hymns Ancient and Modern but Dearmer’s words have won out in most other hymn books, including Hymns Old and New (our Green book). I have included youtube versions of both, Dearmer’s version sung rather respectably by Trinity College choir, and Bunyan’s sung by Maddy Prior in a version  closer to the folk roots of its tune “Monk’s Gate” which was adapted by Vaughan Williams from a tune called the Valiant Soldier which he collected from Mrs Harriet Verrall in the little hamlet of Monk’s Gate, West Sussex.  She also gave him the tune which we now know as “On Christmas night all Christians Sing”.

Version 1: Adapted by Percy Dearmer
1 He who would valiant be
'gainst all disaster,
let him in constancy
follow the Master.
There's no discouragement
shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent
to be a pilgrim.
2 Who so beset him round
with dismal stories,
do but themselves confound—
his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might,
though he with giants fight;
he will make good his right
to be a pilgrim.
3 Since, Lord, Thou dost defend
us with Thy Spirit,
we know we at the end
shall life inherit.
Then, fancies, flee away!
I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim

Version 2: John Bunyan’s original words
1 Who would true valour see,
let him come hither;
one here will constant be,
come wind, come weather;
there's no discouragement
shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent
to be a pilgrim.

2 Whoso beset him round
with dismal stories,
do but themselves confound,
his strength the more is.
No lion can him fright:
he'll with a giant fight,
but he will have the right
to be a pilgrim.
3 Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
can daunt his spirit;
he knows he at the end
shall life inherit.
Then, fancies, fly away;
he'll not fear what men say;
he'll labour night and day
to be a pilgrim.
Percy Dearmer's words, sung by Trinity College choir.
Maddy Prior sings Bunyan's original words. 
PRAYER OF THE WEEK   A prayer of St Benedict
O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Medieval manuscript picture of St Benedict giving the Rule to St MaurusBenedict of Nursia’s impact on the Christian Church can’t be overestimated.  He was born in AD 480, as the Roman Empire was crumbling around him after repeated invasions and attacks from foreign tribes. Benedict was sent from his native Umbria to Rome, with the hope that he would become a lawyer, but he was disillusioned by what he saw of city life and decided to withdraw to live as a hermit in a cave in the rocky landscape of Subiaco, outside Rome, praying and seeking God. Unfortunately, his hope for solitude was disappointed as others soon came to join in him, wanting to learn from him. Soon a community grew up around him, but it was not without its problems. In fact, at one point, his fellow monks even tried to poison him. The goblet which contained the poisoned wine they gave him miraculously shattered, though, and Benedict was saved. Perhaps it was experiences like this which encouraged Benedict to produce the work for which he is most famous, the “Rule” which eventually came to shape monastic communities across most of Western Europe. Its 73 short chapters provide a wealth of wise advice for anyone living in a group with others. It talks about the importance of clothing, adequate for the climate, but not extravagant, and food, sensible amounts of healthy food. It talks about balancing the day between study, work and prayer, and about how to sort out differences or deal with times when monks went off the rails. It is still foundational to many religious orders, and individuals, today, and its wisdom can be applied to any of our lives. It isn’t harsh, but it does set down useful disciplines for living in harmony and enabling members of the community to live with love for God and one another. Religious communities traditionally work through the Rule, over and over again, hearing the chapters read and meditating on them. That’s why monastic buildings have “chapter” houses, and why groups of people are sometimes called chapters. Priests across an area have “Deanery Chapter” meetings (and Hell’s Angels are organised into chapters too – I’m not sure what that says about either group!) In the picture above, Benedict is handing over a copy of the Rule to St Maurus, who founded the first Benedictine monastery after Benedict’s own, on the pattern he had laid down.


We all deserve a medal, but what for? This week’s Church Times cartoon from Dave Walker ( has some suggestions!

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