1st August 2021 - Ninth Sunday after Trinity
9.30am Morning Prayer CW
Officiant: The Revd Jane Millinchip
Preacher: The Revd Dr John Stopford
Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
8th August 2021 - Tenth Sunday after Trinity
9.30am Holy Communion CW
Please remember face masks are to be worn at all services even, if you have had your Covid 19 vaccinationDownload Bulletin
Covid Step 4
The Government has removed the legal requirement for social distancing and face coverings. People are encouraged to wear face coverings in crowded public spaces. We ask everyone attending services to respect the Government’s advice and to take personal responsibility for the health of others as well as themselves.
We will continue to make available the NHS QR code and paper copies of the Test and Trace form.
Based on current levels of Covid infection we will defer the resumption of congregational singing during Sunday services over the summer, but hope this may restart from mid September following the next PCC meeting.
The following parts of our usual worship remain suspended; Offertory, collection plate passed during Offertory hymn, Peace, sharing of the Chalice.
We will continue to observe good practice to protect health during the Prayer of Consecration; the Celebrant will not sing at the altar, the Eucharistic elements will remain covered during the prayer, the Celebrant will use hand sanitiser before handling the Eucharistic elements.
At the administration of Holy Communion the Celebrant will resume saying the words of giving Communion.
Arrangements for weddings and funerals will differ in that where families or couples wish to invite or include a greater number of people and to sing during the service we will respect that decision. Our usual encouragement to follow Government advice remains in place as does the provision of NHS Test and Trace facilities. Where a member of the clergy feels that the numbers present may constitute a risk to their own health or that of those attending they may decline to officiate at the service.
RNIB Appeal: please save your stamps
There will be a collection box in church once again, for all your used stamps. The RNIB can make good use of them.
Please trim them with 1cm of envelope all round, put them in two envelopes: British and Foreign, and leave them in the box at the back of St Mary’s. At the end of January, they will be sent off to help the RNIB appeal.
25th July 2021 - James the Apostle
“We have this treasure in clay jars…”
“We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God.”
The more I read about holy people the more I become aware that they are people who are deeply flawed, and profoundly fragile. For example, during Lent I read Gandhi’s autobiography which reveals him to be a person with a great many faults. His treatment of his family was harsh. At times you wonder how such a self-opinionated bighead could become the man so revered by many.
Those who were close to Mother Teresa found her very difficult to get on with. Holiness is often attractive at a distance, but pretty hard to live with close up. As those who met Jesus found out.
Today we are meant to be celebrating St James the Apostle. Yet our gospel story is hardly flattering. In St Mark it is James and John who seek glory. Matthew, writing some time later – by which time James and John were revered – makes a slight alteration to the story. Here it is not the brothers who ask, but their mother. However you tell it – neither version is flattering.
Jesus himself gave James and John the nickname – Sons of Thunder, perhaps remembering the time they wanted to call down lighting to destroy unfriendly villagers.
As Paul reminds us, the treasure is in clay jars, to make it clear that the extraordinary belongs to God. Or as Edward King would say, in the saints we see not extraordinary people, but ordinary people through whom God does extraordinary things.
Elsewhere Paul makes another comment about clay, the potter can refashion the clay. When a pot goes wonky the potter can reshape the clay and make a new start.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Simon Parke. He was a vicar who felt he’d lost his way so resigned from the church and went to work in a local supermarket. He wrote a book called Shelf Life telling of the characters he met whilst stacking shelves, people through whom he rediscovered what life and faith is all about.
We invited him to lead a parish weekend, one of the themes he kept coming back to was of our need to be dismantled. To have our self-importance, self-reliance, self-seeking, undone.
Do you remember the BBC2 comedy Rev? Following the various mishaps of the Revd Adam Smallbone as he begins a new ministry in an inner city parish. The dialogue and the storylines might offend some, but what I rejoice in are the times when Adam says his prayers. Sometimes kneeling in his gloomy and empty church, sometimes whilst washing the dishes. But he tries to keep in touch with God.
In one episode Adam was tempted by the apparent success of a former friend. A man he trained with was now a regular contributor to Thought for the Day, and often appeared on television. Everyone thought him witty, clever, and tipped for promotion. By contrast, ministering to a small inner city congregation seemed rather unglamorous.
The Archdeacon didn’t help. He encouraged Adam to want to get on, but there was painful fact – there are 10,000 vicars in the Church of England and only 350 top jobs. Promotion, he said, was a likely as becoming a General in the Chinese Army.
I think the script writers got that bit only half right – what they are doing is what Simon called a bit of dismantling. But the truth is that there are 350 bishops and archdeacons – and 10,000 top jobs.
In the end Adam’s successful friend was revealed to be an empty, lonely, desperate man. All his fame and success was an attempt to fill a void – it was he who envied Adam, in whose day to day life of little tasks the real glory was present.
I used to take groups of children on tours of our church. One day I received a letter from a child saying how much they had enjoyed their visit. I was rather chuffed, but then I read on. Their favourite bit wasn’t ringing the bell, dressing up in the robes, gazing at the glorious stained glass, or the vicar’s witty explanation of the various parts of the church.
No, their favourite bit was the font. Because when you pulled the plug out and the water swirled down the drain it made an incredibly rude and funny noise.
Letters like that mean the world. The delight and laughter of children are of immense value. This is treasure - in clay jars. Remember the clay jars – but take very seriously the treasure within.
We honour James the Apostle – and what do we know of him? We know he was a fisherman. We know he was probably closely related to Jesus. We know that he and his brother were sometimes impetuous. We know that at significant moments the two of them were often present as part of a very small group. We know that they, like the other disciples, had designs on promotion when the new kingdom dawned.
None of those are reasons to honour him. Why we honour James is because at the end of the day he allowed Jesus to take apart all his ambitions and hopes and misconceptions. He went through the betrayal and the desertion and the despair. He went through the loss of faith. He went through all that might, and undoubtedly did, turn others away – and at the end he came back.
We honour James because he is no saint – just a man – but a man who in the end remained loyal, in end trusted, in the end understood.
During Covid much of our lives has been dismantled, much of our church has been dismantled. St James reminds us that when God dismantles it is so he can reshape, as the potter refashions the clay. What emerges is different, unfamiliar, perhaps even uncomfortable.
The wonky clay may be reshaped – it will only ever be clay – ordinary and fragile – yet clay may hold treasure, and the ordinary may be used to contain the extraordinary.
The Revd Canon Paul Dawson
From the 17th May The Mews will be available for bookings of socially distanced groups of six (maximum) this is of course subject to any new government restrictions.
Please contact Deryck Petty 07974447776
Mid Cheshire Foodbank
St Mary's are once again able to collect gifts for the foodbank.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we fed twice as many people last week as we did during the same time last year. We need your support now more than ever and we are looking for these products this week -
Long life fruit juice
Please leave your gifts in the box at the bak of church.
Please help Mid Cheshire Foodbank. They need our support now more than ever.
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.
Regular updates would be appreciated about the condition of those who are sick.
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.