2nd August 2020 - Trinity 8
9.30am Morning Prayer CW
Officiant: The Revd Canon Paul Dawson
Preacher: The Revd Dr John Stopford
Readings: 1 Kings 10: 1-13
Acts 13: 1-13
9th August 2020 - Trinity 9
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Covid 19 Update - Suspension of Services from Sunday 9th August.
On Friday 31st July the Government announced that wearing face coverings will be mandatory in places of worship from 8th August. One of the key parts of reopening our churches was the legal requirement for us to conduct a Risk Assessment and to make provision to ensure the safety of those attending services. The new legislation will require us to undertake a new Risk Assessment and take appropriate steps to mitigate hazards.
For example, we are aware that those of us who wear glasses find it difficult to see properly when wearing a face covering, in historic buildings with uneven floors and steps this creates a new trip hazard. We also need to consider how we would assist someone who has a fall. Those leading worship, using the lectern step, the various steps around the chancel and sanctuary areas, and the steps into our pulpits, also need to review risk management.
The timing of the announcement means that the Church of England has not had time to provide new guidance and advice to churches. We hope that these will be available soon but in the meantime we have had to make the decision to suspend public worship from Sunday 9th August. This is a decision we very much regret. Over the past weeks we have had to adapt to new regulations on a weekly basis which we have so far been able to incorporate within our current Risk Assessment. The most recent changes in regulations mean that we need to undertake a more thorough review and we are waiting for advice how to proceed.
The PCCs have permission to suspend services until Sunday 6th September which gives us time to receive new advice and take the appropriate steps to reopen our churches safely. We hope this can be achieved earlier but much depends on how the situation develops and what the guidelines tell us. We will provide updates via our website.
I am immensely thankful for the diligence of our PCC members throughout this difficult situation. We hope we can reopen our churches soon but will only do so when we are confident we can do so safely.
John's Letter for Trinity 8 Sunday 02.08.20
Paul has also put a video version on YouTube which can be viewed by clicking the following link https://youtu.be/hnjr63MTsTM
Acts 13: 1 – 13.
What we heard about in our reading from the book of Acts was of a pivotal point in the life of the Church. It was at this point that the leaders of the early church decided to take the Gospel out to all the world.
It would not have been an easy decision for those involved, they knew it would be difficult, it would probably cause them to suffer hardship and danger, but they knew it was what God wanted them to do and so they accepted the task.
After hearing that there are prophets and teachers we then hear who they are and we could be confused by the names used, as at that time most people were referred to by different names dependant on the group they were with, and we have a pretty mixed group in this passage.
Barnabas was a Jew from Cyprus, Lucius came from Cyrene in North Africa. Simeon was also a Jew from Antioch, but his other name was Niger, Manean was someone who had aristocratic connections, he was brought up with Herod the Tetrach.
And of course Saul was a Jew from Tarsus who had been trained as a Rabbi.
The group came from not only different places but also from widely varying backgrounds, some highly educated some not so.
We hear that the first port of call in spreading the word was to Cyprus, not really surprising as that was the home of Barnabas, who seemed to be taking the lead at that time, and he would want to take the good news to his own people first.
At that time Cyprus was a Roman province, it had copper mines and ship building which were of great commercial interest to the Romans.
It was sometimes called Makaria which means the happy isle because the climate was so perfect and everything was there you could imagine needing for a happy life.
Sounds like a great place to start but Barnabas and Paul who went with him did not take the easy way, they did much of their work in Paphos the capital which was infamous for the worship of Venus the goddess of love. Not a very receptive starting point.
Most people there were also intensely superstitious and this included Sergius Paulus who was Governor of Cyprus.
He like many, despite their intelligence, employed private wizards and fortune tellers who dealt in magic and spells, generally telling them what they wanted to hear, for a nice fee.
Bar-Jesus or Elymas as he was sometimes known, this is an Arabic word meaning the skilful one, was one of these, a magician, and he was concerned that if the Governor was won over by these Christians he would be out of a job.
But guided by the Holy Spirit Paul was more than a match of him, and after this we never hear Paul referred to by his Jewish name of Saul.
The shear breadth of backgrounds shown in these few key followers called to do His work shows clearly the intent that the message was not just for the chosen few, not just for one town or area, or just country, but for all people everywhere, whoever and whatever they were.
As we follow the journey as it goes on in our reading we see that Paul in fact takes over the lead, but that there is no complaint from Barnabas.
We also see that the group split up, Paul and Barnabas went on to Perga in Pamphylia but John left them and went back to Jerusalem.
The John mentioned here is John Mark who we know better as Mark the writer of the Gospel.
We know that Mark was younger than the rest, his mother’s house in Jerusalem seems to have been the centre of the church there and so he was brought up at the centre of the faith.
Paul and Barnabas took him with them probably because he was a cousin of Barnabas, we don’t know if this was part of the reason he returned to Jerusalem, that he resented his relative Barnabas being down graded from leadership by Paul.
Perhaps he just got cold feet as the next stage of the journey was a dangerous and difficult one, it may also have been that he was not so convinced that they should be preaching to the gentiles.
Initially Paul found it hard to accept Mark leaving and resented it, in fact when he and Barnabas set out on their second missionary journey Barnabas suggested taking Mark but Paul would have none of it, he did not want a quitter with them.
What I think this passage tells us is that God is prepared to use anyone in his service, it does not matter what their background, if they have had formal education or none, if they come from a good family or the poorest of the poor, the most important thing is that they are prepared to let God into their lives and in doing so to understand that they have to listen to God and let Him guide them rather than being obsessed by their own ambition or pursuit of wealth.
I believe it also tells us that we can change, Saul who was such a persecutor of the early followers of Christ changed to become one of the leaders in spreading the Gospel Jesus brought into our world.
Originally a staunch Jew, a Rabbi even and yet he was the one who led the way in bringing Christ to the Gentiles throughout so many different parts of the world.
Mark too who for whatever reason left Barnabas and Paul to return home but who gave us one of our most important records of the Life and work of Jesus.
It also shows us that there are many different ways we can serve our Lord even today, possibly in some form of formal Licensed Ministry, ordained or lay, or just by being prepared to be there for others as a Christian presence so that our Lord can do His work through us.
Yes we can all serve the Lord in our own way, and I hope we do.
The Revd Dr John Stopford
READ MARK, learn and inwardly digest
You are invited to join in with a course for 12 weeks at 1.10 -2.00 pm on Wednesdays starting on May 13th and concluding on August 5th.
Clergy from around the diocese, including Bishop Keith Sinclair will talk about sections of Mark’s gospel each week and will take us through the whole gospel.
There are two ways you can join in
1. You can join the sessions live on Wednesdays at 1.10 through Zoom and ask questions of the speaker. If you would like an invitation to be present please contact email@example.com and you will be sent the link to enable you to connect for 1.10.
2. You can watch the sessions on You Tube after they have been recorded on the cathedral website on
You will find it helpful to bring a version of Mark’s gospel for the session.
The speakers are following the sections in the link below and some will use the material whilst others may refer to it. You may wish to read it beforehand or afterwards or simply listen to the speakers.
We look forward to joining with you in, ‘READING MARK, learn and inwardly digest’ this summer.
Please note that we are not taking bookings for The Mews at the present time.
We welcome new names of those who are ill to be added to our weekly list for prayer. This is intended for a short to medium term prayer list.
After two months names will be
transferred to the Vicar's long term
prayer list. You can of course request that the name goes back on the list for a further period.
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Please let the Vicar or Linda Dutton know.
St Mary's church takes its duty and obligation to protect all, extremely seriously. We have adopted the national Church of England's robust procedures and guidelines. You can find out more about the national policies and procedures at www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding.
"If you have any safeguarding concerns or issues of a safeguarding matter then you can find useful contact information at www.chester.anglican.org/social-responsibility/safeguarding"
Our involvement with Whitegate Primary School has enabled us to build relationships with the young people and provide a safe environment within which they can meet and continue the friendships forged at Primary School when they move onto High School.