IMPORTANT

 

Closure of St. Bartholomew’s Church

for Communal Worship

 

After receiving strong advice from the local authority that, due to the increasing numbers of infections, places of worship should be closed, Bishop Martin and Bishop Will are encouraging us to comply with this request. The church wardens and the PCC of St. Bartholomew’s have agreed to suspend services of communal worship until further notice.

Readings, prayers and a reflections will continue to be sent out by email and will also be available on St. Bartholomew’s website by each Sunday. Information of where you can view online services will also be given.

Please look for further information on the recommencement of communal services.

If you have any queries please contact me by emailing thymeplace@gmail.com

or calling 01435 884135

Thank you for your understanding.

Vicky and Richard

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Third Sunday of Epiphany 2021 - 24th January 2021

 

Collect

 

God of all mercy,

your Son proclaimed good news to the poor,

release to the captives,

and freedom to the oppressed;

anoint us with your Holy Spirit

and set all your people free

to praise you in Christ our Lord.

Reading: Genesis 14.17-20

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19He blessed him and said,

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

   maker of heaven and earth;

20 and blessed be God Most High,

   who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

 

Psalm 128

 

1 Blessed are all those who fear the Lord, •

   and walk in his ways.

2 You shall eat the fruit of the toil of your hands; •

   it shall go well with you, and happy shall you be.

3 Your wife within your house

     shall be like a fruitful vine; •

   your children round your table,

     like fresh olive branches.

4 Thus shall the one be blest •

   who fears the Lord.

5 The Lord from out of Zion bless you, •

   that you may see Jerusalem in prosperity

     all the days of your life.

6 May you see your children’s children, •

   and may there be peace upon Israel.

 

Reading: Revelation 19.6-10

6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,

‘Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

   the Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and exult

   and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

   and his bride has made herself ready;

8 to her it has been granted to be clothed

   with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Gospel Reading: John 2.1-11

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Glory to you, O Lord.

2On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Sermon by Canon Patrick Sales

Drawing comparisons between modern and ancient times can be fraught with dangers, but I have been wondering whether some of the situations we witness today around the world might help us to understand more clearly those faced by people in the past. I would not want to push the analogy too far, but such comparisons do, I feel, help us to see that people who lived thousands of years ago were real people, and like us, had to grapple with problems that made demands upon the way they lived their lives.

The historical setting for the first reading set for today from the book of Genesis, describes the outcome of a situation all too real in today’s world particularly in parts of the Middle East and Africa. We need to flesh it out a bit to appreciate the full meaning. The lifestyle of Abraham as portrayed in Genesis is that of a semi-nomad, living in tents and wandering up and down Palestine and its borderlands in search of seasonal pasture for his flocks. Although it was a thinly populated area some of the land was in the hands of tribal chiefs, who were beginning to settle, and they did not look kindly on the nomadic wandering tribes. Roaming bands under various leaders, the Old Testament calls them kings, had been tyrannising the countryside in the regions where Abraham followed his nomadic way of life and his nephew Lot had settled. In one such raid Lot and his family are kidnapped and held for ransom. When this news is eventually brought to Abraham he gathers a force of 318 men, and in a night raid, attacks the hostage-takers, rescues Lot and chases off the invaders. The kings of some of the surrounding tribes come to meet Abraham and Lot on their return to congratulate and thank them. Among them is Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem, who is also described as being a priest of God most High. Perhaps, because of his status as both a leader and a priest he blesses Abraham. But he does not simply offer a spiritual blessing, he also offers a practical one to the weary warriors of Abraham, he offers food and wine: he is generous in his blessing.

It is quite possible that St. John had this event in mind when he recounts his story of the wedding feast at Cana, a story so pregnant with meaning that almost every word bursts with significance: the third day; a wedding feast; the wine; my hour; stone jars. All of these words can be said to have significance for both Jews and Greeks and the early Christians who read this gospel. Reference to the third day in early Christian literature, as in John’s gospel, nearly always points to the resurrection of Jesus. The wedding feast for Jews had overtones of their idea of the kingdom of God when they would join together in an eternal banquet, and early Christians took this idea over and put their own interpretation upon it – the marriage feast of the Lamb of God - as we read in the passage from Revelation set for today. The wine for Jews was a sign of God’s bounty, one of the good things that the earth provides and the same would be true for Greek listeners to this story familiar with the tales of the Greek God Dionysus, and for early Christians the tradition of the Last Supper would come to mind. My hour indicates the crucifixion and the stone jars refer to the ritual cleansing requirements under Jewish religious law that St. John regards Jesus as superseding.

If we put the gospel of John into its historical context we find again a period fraught with tension and conflict, not of hostage taking, but more the conflict between religious ideas and beliefs, and that is something with which we are all too familiar today. There was for example the conflict within Judaism between Galilee and Judea, the southern Jews with their centre in Jerusalem despising their northern Galilean compatriots centred on Samaria and with an alternative temple. The conflict between Jews and Gentiles as to who had the right idea about God, and then there was the growing conflict between traditional Jews and those of their number who were embracing Christianity and claiming Jesus as the Messiah. It was this last conflict perhaps more than the others that led the gospel writers to write down their collected stories of Jesus, to set the record straight and to quash the rather more bizarre rumours that were beginning to spread about Jesus of Nazareth, what today we might label “fake news”!

And the purpose? To set people free, whether Jew or Gentile, from their old restricting rules or superstitions and to live their lives in the light of the teaching of this man Jesus, who was so much more than he had seemed at first glance; who brought a freshness to his ideas about God and human relationships, and who cut across the boundaries of restricting conventions and offered hope of a future where love and mutual acceptance would replace suspicion and conflict. He brought a blessing, but he also had an eye for the practical needs of the people he lived amongst as this story illustrates. That work which he began, which the gospels set out to describe, is a work still in progress, it occurs when people of good will work together, as we have seen so often over this last year, then great things can and do happen, and it is Good News, the Gospel in action, the new wine of the Kingdom.

Post Communion

Almighty Father,

whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world:

may your people,

illumined by your word and sacraments,

shine with the radiance of his glory,

that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth;

for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

 

Additional services information

On line services, prayer for the day and podcasts can be found on the Church of England website under the Prayer and Worship tab. .

Online services can be found via St. Phillips website or their Face book page led by Revd Graham and Julia Lewis.

 

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