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This the 2nd Sunday of July, a Sunday which is kept by many different denomina­tions as Sea Sunday, a time when congregations around the world give thanks to God for those who go to sea and those who minister to them.


OPENING PRAYER.

We come together as the family of God in our Father's presence to offer him praise and thanksgiving for the ministry of the church among seafarers; to hear and receive his holy word; to bring before him the needs of the world, the missionary work of his church and to pray for seafarers and their families of every nation; to ask his forgiveness for our sins and to seek his grace, through his Son, Jesus Christ, we may give ourselves to his service.


I am Peter Ellis and joining me for this service today are Father Valan Arockiaswamy the Apostleship of the Sea Chaplain, The German Seamens Mission Chaplain, the Reverend Martina Platte, Captain Luca Ferrerio Assistant Chaplain Mission to Seafarers and a special welcome to The Reverend Kevin Maddy The Mission to Seafarers Chaplain in Yokohama Japan.


PSALM 23

The Lord is my pilot; I shall not drift.
He lighteth me across the dark waters :
He steereth me in the deep channels.
He keepeth my log; He guideth me by
the star of holiness for his name,s sake
Yea thou I sail amid the thunders
and tempest of life, I shall dread
no danger: for thou art with 'me
thy love and they care they shelter me.
Thou preparest a harbour before me
in the homeland of eternity:
thou anointest the waves with oil,
my ship rideth calmly.
Surely sunlight and starlight shall favour
me on the voyage I take:
and I will rest in the port of my God forever.

James (2: 14-18)   Faith and good works


Take the case, my brothers, of someone who
has never done a single good act but claims
that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one
of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need
of clothes and has not enough food to live on,
and one of you say to them, `I wish you well;
keep yourself warm and eat plenty', without
giving them these bare necessities of life, then
what good is that? Faith is like that: if good
works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind:
“ You say you have faith and I have good deeds;
I will prove to you that I have faith by showing
you my good deeds- now you prove to me that
you have faith without any good deeds to show.”


Luke (8: 22-25)The calming of the storm


One day, he got into a boat with his disciples
and said to them, `Let us cross over to the
other side of the lake' So they put to sea, and
as they sailed he fell asleep. When a squall
came down on the lake the boat started taking
in water and they found themselves in danger.
So they went to rouse him saying, "Master!
Mater! We are going down!' Then he woke up
and rebuked the wind and the rough water; and
they subsided and it was calm again. He said
to them, `Where is your faith?' They were
awestruck and astonished and said to one
another, ` who can this be, that gives orders
even to winds and. waves and they obey him?'

SEA SUNDAY ADDRESS – RADIO SERVICE

One of the few stories that mention sailing and seafarers in the Gospel is the story about the stilling of the storm that we have just heard read from St Luke’s Gospel.
In that story the disciples of Jesus are found to be in a panic because a violent storm is rocking the boat and they are afraid for their lives.  They awaken Jesus to ask him what they must do and, after stilling the storm, he tells them that they should have more faith.  Many of the seafarers who bring us our daily goods will have experienced many storms at sea and other dangers, like the disciples, many of them will have turned to God to ask for his protection and deliverance from danger.
God’s word to them, as it is to all of us, is to have faith.  But what does it mean to have faith?  In many of the stories in the Gospels, as in this story of the stilling of the storm, we see that faith has to do with compassion and the restoring of trust and inner peace.  Jesus showed compassion to his disciples and restored their calm and trust by his actions in the stilling of the storm.
Of course,many people read this story as a miracle story – a story about Jesus’ power over nature – but the real message of the story, I believe, is about the compassion of God that wants his people to know peace in their hearts and to trust in his love for them.

God cares for us, especially in times of danger and trouble, and he says to us ‘have faith’, trust in my compassionate love for you and my desire for your peace of mind and I will be with you.
God is with those who place their trust in his love and peace and, even in the midst of life’s most terrible storms and struggles, we can know that love and peace in our hearts if we have faith – if we trust him to be with us.
In the fast moving society in which we live today, many people no longer seem to think we need to put our trust in God.  We have many others to do things for us.
If we are sick, we have hospitals and doctors to care for us; if we are out of work, we have unemployment schemes and welfare benefits to look after our needs; if we are worried about the future for our families, we can take out insurance to ensure our future needs are taken care of.  In a world in which most of our needs are taken care of, why should we need to trust in God?

Of course, there are situations in which we are thrown entirely on the mercy of God, and I think that is especially understood by seafarers.
At sea all of these many things that we take for granted – our home comforts, security, protection from storms and dangers – are no longer there.  The sea can be a very forbidding place and some have even called it cruel.  The sea, like the desert, can be a lonely place and a place where we are thrown up against our limitations.   
One of the things the experience of the sealor of the desert can do for us is to show us just how dependent our lives are on forces outside our control.  And, it is into this context of feeling dependent and fragile that Jesus speaks his words of faith and trust.

Our modern way of living tries to bring everything under control for, if we can control every aspect of our lives, then we no longer feel dependent and fragile.
What the sea teaches those who work on it is that there are many things in life that cannot be controlled.  We cannot control the waves or the weather, any more than we can control when we are born or when we die.  In fact, it is the attempt to try and control every aspect of our lives that leads us to worry and to become emotionally drained.
Jesus taught his disciples not to worry about tomorrow and to trust God to provide for their daily needs.  Of course we all try to think about the future and plan for the long term but, in the midst of the storms and struggles of life, we are reminded that the only moment that matters is now.  Jesus tells his disciples that they should trust God, have faith in God, in the present moment and, in that way, their peace of mind and heart will be restored.

Without faith, without trust, we are left to the mercy of our worries and our panic.  With faith and trust we can know peace, even in the middle of the storm.  The stilling of the storm in faith restores our peace and calm.
But, is that all it means to have faith?  Is faith a blind kind of trust – a bet in the dark?  In the other reading we have heard today St James tells us that faith is empty without good works.
What he means by that is that trust and love,faith and peace go together.  Faith is not a selfish thing and St James encourages us to think of faith as something that we share with others as we share the love and peace that comes from God.

Seafarers know that the only way to deal with danger and trouble on the ship is to stick together and to help one another.
In the Gospel story from St Luke, Jesus didn’t still the storm in order to save himself, but to restore calm amongst his followers.  Jesus’ faith in God and his compassion for his disciples went together – he trusted God to restore peace and calm and acted so that his disciples could know that peace and calm.
Faith is not selfish, for faith is always an act that seeks to bring God’s love, peace and joy to those who need it.  Faith is not about saving oneself or, as we could read in that story from St Luke, about showing power over nature; rather faith is about restoring God’s peace, love and joy in the community.

Faith is directed towards others as well as directed towards God.
So, how should we direct our faith towards others – what can we do to demonstrate our good works?
The first thing that faith teaches, and that St Paul reminds the Christians in Galatia, is that we should bear one another’s burdens.
Faith is about sharing the care and love and compassion we have received from God.  It is about welcoming the stranger, being hospitable to those who need food and drink, caring for the sick and the outcast, and sharing what we have been blessed with in order that others can share in that blessing.

Each day I pray that God will bless me so that I may be a blessing to others, and this is an important prayer I think for all of us.
That we may be a blessing to others – that is the purpose of faith.  If we trust in God, we should demonstrate that trust by sharing it with those around us.  God has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet, prays St Teresa of Avila.
God works through us his people and our faith is shown in the works that come from our hearts of faith through our hands and feet.

On Sea Sunday we think of seafarers and their families especially – what works of faith can we do for them?

Of course our most important duty as Christians is to pray for one another, and we can pray for seafarers as they face the perils of the sea – its storms and dangers and, especially at this time, the danger they face from pirates.
Another thing we can do is to welcome seafarers into our lives by making them feel at home in our ports, and by offering them the basic care of human friendship.
We can extend that care by sharing what we know with them – local information, news, things about ourselves that they may find interesting having spent days in a confined and limited environment.  We can ask about and show an interest in their families, and we can extend our care even further by showing them hospitality – making them welcome in our lives.  Of course seafarers have their own homes but, in a sense, each port is home to them for a while – let us do what we can to make it feel like home.

In addition to these basic actions of human care, we can visit those seafarers who are sick or in prison, and we can help those who are in trouble or need.
Above all, we should keep the people of the sea in our thoughts, for God cares for them as he cares for all.
They may be distant and unseen for most of the time because of their time at sea – and, even when we do see them, they are here and gone in no time – so we should make a special effort to think of them and pray for them.  No-one should be forgotten in our Christianlife, and especially in our acts of faith.

Let us remember our seafarers as God remembers them, and let our faith be demonstrated by our good works towards them.
As we remember seafarers and their families on Sea Sunday, giving thanks for their hard work in bringing us the good things that we enjoy, let us remember also the message of faith.
Let us ask God to protect those who face the perils and dangers of the sea and, as we turn to God in faith, let us also share with those seafarers the love and peace we receive from God in faith.

Above all, let's remember that faith is not about saving ourselves, but about putting our trust in the God who works through our hearts and hands to bring peace, love and joy to others.  May our faith be demonstrated in our good works.  As we pray for seafarers, let us also work for their good and let us, like Jesus, do our best to bring calm and compassion to those lives that struggle with the sea and its storms.

INTERCESSIONS

Let us thank God who has brought us together to this day, who sustains us by his power, strengthens us by his Spirit and nourishes us with his word. May we worship him in spirit and in truth.

Lord, hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.

Let us thank God, the Creator and Redeemer of all people, all things, for his loving kindness in giving us this world and everything in it. May we care for creation in all its forms. May we banish pollution and exploitation from among us that all may live and grow together in love, peace and justice.

Lord hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.     
          

Let us thank God, the giver of all good gifts, for seafarers who leave their families, friends and homes to bring us the food for our table, the cargoes for industry and commerce, the coal and fuels that we need. May we in our turn care for them and their families, hold them in our prayers, serve them with our endeavours so all may sail in safety, and return home to their loved ones.

Lord hear us.                                   
Lord graciously hear us.


We pray for all who work in shipping, in management, in unions, in support industries and services. May their work be valued and rewarded with success and a greater understanding by those who benefit for their gifts and skills.

Lord hear us.                                   
Lord graciously hear us.    
           

We pray for all who work to serve seafarers and their families around the world: the chaplains, their assistants, volunteers and all who support them in any way, by prayers, by fundraising. May we all see this work as obedience to the command to love our neighbours as ourselves, and in loving them, loving God.

Lord hear us.                                   
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for all who are in darkness or despair, at home or at sea, in hospital or in prison. May we do everything we can to bring the light of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to them. May they find light in their darkness and hope in their despair.

Lord, hear us.
Lord graciously hear us               

We pray for the leaders of the nations, for patience and persistence in all who work for freedom and justice, and we pray for a spirit of respect and mutual understanding among all peoples.

Lord hear us.                                 
Lord graciously hear us.
             

All Creator and Father of all, we pray for those who go down to the sea in ships and on whom we depend. Bless them and those who long for their safe return and bring us all to your kingdom, where there is no sorrow, no tears, but joy and life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.       

Lord God, of the universe, the fertile land, the swarming sea, bless those who sail the seas to make a living and bring us the goods we need. Keep them safe from all danger. Give them faith when they doubt, hope when they despair, and the joy of homecoming through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.    

Heavenly Father, you sent your Holy Spirit to guide and give courage to the saints of old as they crossed hostile seas carrying the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank you that you brought them safely to land, enabling them to preach the good news of your kingdom. Guide us today with the same Spirit, as we journey through the troubled waters of our lives – when battered, by the winds of doubt and change, strengthen our resolve and purpose, so that standing firm on the rock of our faith we may ever feel your presence with us on our pilgrimage to that distant shore which is our heavenly home. Amen

BLESSING

Into your hands, 0 Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let your presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that whatsoever good work we do we are serving you. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know your will, and knowing, gladly perform it; to the honour of your name. Amen





HYMNS

AMAZING GRACE                                              
BE THOU MY VISION                                        
DEAR LORD AND FATHER OF MANKIND     
GUIDE ME O THOU GREAT REDEMER          
LORD OF THE DANCE                                       
LET ALL THE WORLD IN EVERY CORNER SING   
ETERNAL FATHER STRONG TO SAVE          
THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU    



Bryn Terfel
The Choir of King’s College Cambridge
Katherine Jenkins
The Fron Male Voice Choir
The Choir of Wells Cathedral
Halifax Choral Society
The Choir of St Mark’s Church North     .    Audley Street, London
The Cambridge Singers

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    Hong Kong, SAR China  
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