19th August 2018

12th Sunday after Trinity

Collect

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters and did not hide his face from shame: give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings

Old Testament                        1 Kings 2. 10-12, 3. 3-14

New Testament                                     Ephesians 5. 15-20

Gospel                                       John 6. 51-58

Today’s Epistle reminds us that every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection, even in the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. But there is much more here. Clearly, the conduct of various members of the Faith was to be questioned in the light of what was happening at the time. Drunkenness is one of the social issues brought before us in the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah Ch. 24, v.20, Proverbs Ch. 23v. 21) and its consequences remain to be a constant social issue today. We know how pervasive a problem it is. We also know how difficult it is to control. One wise man suggested years ago that if alcohol were a new substance it would be banned along with other anti-social drugs. Its dangers were well-enough known to the founders of Islam that alcoholic drinks, together with some practices recently accepted by Christianity, were forbidden. It is also worth remembering that the very word “Alcohol” is in fact Arabic in origin, though originally it meant “The “powder” used as eye-liner and from there, the spirit of a substance and finally the term we encounter in a landlord’s licence to sell “Spirits”. But to the writer of the Epistle the Holy Spirit was the reality, the power, the source of the joy, not some synthetic product of the grape harvest which only brought about anti-social activities. It is also worth remembering that despite many suggestions, the cause behind the effects of alcohol upon the human being was unknown. It followed, therefore that some mysterious force was at work and so the New Testament writers were familiar with the worship of  the god Bacchus and his followers in Rome and Dionysus at Athens. The drunken revelry associated with Bacchus was well-known throughout the Ancient World when this Epistle was written. By contrast the worship of the Greek god Dionysus consisted of four artistic festivals featuring plays performed by wandering troupes of actors and much singing and dancing as well as drinking quantities of wine, to celebrate the god of fertility at different phases in the agricultural year. Every year Dionysus was restored to life again from his winter sleep when Spring and new growth began. It might be thought that in the portion of the Epistle we have here, a person of the times might be encouraged to sing and rejoice because in Christ life was restored anew and commemorated every Sunday, as the Fellowship meal of bread and wine was shared by Christians. But clearly, the age-old tendency of humans to overstep the bounds of seemly conduct, are yet again noted and condemned. The Emperor Constantine, who in March 313AD decreed that Christianity should become the official religion of the Roman Empire, refused to be baptised until on his death-bed. He was afraid that if he committed a sin after baptism he would be eternally damned. He personified one attitude towards the consequences of the Sacrament which then prevailed. Your life must be led with this possibility ever before you and clearly those who had instructed him after his conversion must have impressed him deeply with this belief. But there was an equally powerful conclusion to the life after baptism. The alternative was that as you died with Christ and rather like Dionysus, rose again to new life after baptism, then, since you were now dead to sin, you were freed from any danger of eternal condemnation, whatever you did afterwards. You therefore were to celebrate as newly-created citizens of the Empire with all the privileges and status which freed people enjoyed in the eyes of the Roman State. You will recall that so significant was this status that Paul, though not a Roman, but as a free citizen of the Empire, used his right to be tried before the Emperor at Rome and nobody could contradict this appeal. In much the same way Christians over the centuries have taken issue with the Church when it proposed any barrier between the individual and their right to appear before God as a citizen of his eternal Empire. So today, let us celebrate our liberty in Christ!                                                                          Brian

Services Next Sunday – 26th August 13th Sunday after Trinity

Weston-under-Penyard Evensong 6.30 p.m.
Hope Mansel Parish Communion 9.30 a.m.
 The Lea NO SERVICE
Aston Ingham Holy Communion 8.00 a.m.
Linton Mattins 11.15 a.m.
Upton Bishop Parish Communion 9.30 a.m.

Forthcoming Services & Events

Upton Bishop Church Havergal weekend in aid of church funds and HHCT. Find out about the lives of Rev Francis Havergal and his sister Frances Havergal. Saturday 8th Sept 2.30 – 4.30 pm. Teas; Sunday 9th Sept 12.30 pm The Havergal Banquet, some food provided but bring your own too. Fancy Veg competition bring your beautiful, peculiar or enormous vegetable, to be judged after Banquet.

The Lea. Children ‘s Church next service will be September 23rd at 10 a.m.

Please be aware that if you have any events you would like to advertise here, do please contact Debs directly (details below) and she will be pleased to include them. 

Please pray for all who are sick: Brenda Edwards (UB), Hilary Westmacott (Lin)

Rev David Howell 01989 568736    email:   revdavidhowell@btinternet.com

If you would like to receive this pew sheet via email please email Debs debsparishsecretary@btinternet.com