Seventh Sunday after Trinity


Proper 12



The Church celebrates James the Apostle on 25th July, so today there is a choice of readings to follow:


Proper 12                                                                    James the Apostle

1 Kings 3:5-12                                                             2 Kings 1:9-15

Psalm 119                                                                    Psalm 15

Romans 8:26-39                                                         Acts 11:27-12:3

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52                                         Matthew 20:20-28





Lord of all power and might,

the author and giver of all good things:

graft in our hearts the love of your name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and of your great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Merciful God,

Whose holy apostle Saint James,

leaving his father and all that he had,

was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ

and followed him even to death:

help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world, to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Some Thoughts and Reflections


The Bright Field by R.S.Thomas


I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the pearl

of great price, the one field that had

the treasure in it. I realise now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying


on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.



St James is the patron saint of Spain, Guatemala and Nicaragua.


According to the biblical record, James was the son of the fisherman, Zebedee, and the brother of the apostle John. They left their father and his business to follow Jesus. Jesus named James and John – Boanerges, ‘Sons of Thunder.’

With Peter, they were part of the inner circle among the disciples of Jesus.

James is given particular mention in the accounts of the raising of Jairus’ daughter - perhaps you have noticed the stained glass image in our own           St James in Shere - and the agony of Jesus in Gethsemene.

He was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa c. 44CE.


It seems that James was:


A forceful character


Maybe a revolutionary

Zealous in his following


The narratives speak of:



Growing up

Becoming independent

Making one’s own choices


The link with Spain comes from around the 7th Century when it was alleged that before his martyrdom, St James preached in Spain.

Another legend grew in Spain that the body of St James was buried in Compostela (field of stars)The place thus became known as Santiago (St James) de Compostela and for centuries millions of people have made pilgrimages to Compostela to visit the relics of St James.

In the Middle Ages, Compostela was the principal pilgrimage centre in Europe and in 1170, the military Order of Santiago was founded as the patronage of   St James was urged to assist the reconquest of Spain from the Muslim Moors.


In the Middle Ages, the making of a pilgrimage was a significant part of a believer’s religious observance. It could mean the fulfilment of a life-long ambition and was often associated with repentance as a way of doing penance for sin. So, of course, the more distant the shrine to which the pilgrim was travelling and the more arduous the journey, the greater the merit to the pilgrim.


Travel in the Middle Ages was a hazardous business and pilgrims always left their affairs in good order for they could not be sure of returning with illness, storms, pirates, bandits and other dangers to be expected.

For those who survived and returnrd from Compostela, there was the great honour of wearing St James’ emblem……the scallop shell.

Eventually, as we at St Martha’s know well, the shell became the accepted badge worn by any pilgrim to any shrine.


…….’with silver bells and cockle shells……’


Many pilgrims left from the Port of Rochester and the city thus has a cockleshell in its coat of arms.


The Feast of St James then, falling in the holiday season, links the themes of pilgrimage, holiday, the sea and the seashore.


So, what about our 21st Century pilgrimages??


What might making pilgrimages and the idea of sacred places and sacred shrines mean to us?

Do they have value for us?

Our immediate answer will depend on our personalities to some extent.

In our spiritual lives, as in other areas of life, we respond differently – some are mystics, some contemplatives, some have their feet placed fairly and squarely on the ground…..

Part of the mystery of pilgrimage, I suspect though, is that it has something to say to everyone for, in the making of pilgrimage, there can be found both mystery, transcendence and the sense of otherness, alongside the so-called mundane and everyday.

For that is the reality of life-----there is both incredible beauty, joy  and diversity AND harshness, loneliness and pain------both the majesty of the mountains, the glory of the sunrise AND the pain of the blister, the chill of the biting wind.


There is also the growing realisation that in order to keep going and to negotiate narrow places, it is necessary to carry little baggage…….

How much can we let go???

An extract from a modern-day pilgrim:

It is now January and I have walked 300 miles. Here there is no blade of grass, let alone a tree, there are no hills, neither houses, nor hermitages and not a rock bigger than my fist, it is desert, although there isn’t any sand. I am alone, walking across 100 miles of desert which is as flat as a lake, hard underfoot and covered with a sprinkling of shale. Like the football pitch I played on as a child. It is so flat and empty that I don’t seem to be getting anywhere, the horizon ahead never gets any nearer, the one behind is never any further away.

I have to tell myself that I am making progress, though I feel like a mouse on a treadmill. The emptiness is—at —one— and—the—same—time both un-nerving and liberating.






Guardian of my soul,

guide me on my way this day.

Keep me safe from harm.

Deepen my relationship with you, your Earth, and all your family.

Strengthen your love within me

that I may be a presence of your peace in our world.


                                                                    Tom Pfeffer and Joyce Rupp








Here is a prayer you could say, with Shere parish, celebrating their Patronal Day, joining in with them as they light a candle on Sunday evenings:

As I light this candle:

Creator God, surround my home with the warmth of your love.

Fire of the Spirit, burn within me.

Light of Christ, shine from me. Amen.


The sacred Three be over me, the blessing of the Trinity.
Keep protection near, and danger afar.
Keep hope within, keep doubt without.
The sacred Three encircle me, the blessing of the Trinity.
Keep peace within, keep evil out.
Keep light near, and darkness afar.
The sacred Three indwelling me, the blessing of the Trinity.



Merciful Father,

accept these and all our prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.






Be strong through the grace that is yours in union with Christ Jesus.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.  Amen.




Be of good courage,

stand firm in the faith,

do everything in love;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.


Stephanie Sokolowski            25/7/20


Please note that the above is not referenced.

It is sent to congregation members for personal use only!