Harbour’s Sea Sunday service


Churches Together, a group representing Christians from all denominations in the Rye area, meets together regularly to worship and exchange thoughts and ideas. By tradition there is an annual Sea Sunday service at the harbour, held on the bank outside the William the Conqueror pub so that everyone can enjoy watching the boats go by.

However, because of this year’s heat it was decided to picnic in the churchyard under the shade of the trees and hold the service in the harbour church, the Church of the Holy Spirit. This was very apt as the church was designed with a barrel-vaulted roof representing an upturned boat.

The service was led by Revd Fiona Gill, from Rye Baptist Church. She welcomed everyone and began with a prayer. There were four hymns, each with sea connections, including

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.”

Fr Matthew Chadwick from St Anthony of Padua, the Roman Catholic church, read the gospel and below are some excerpts from the sermon given by Revd Paul White, rector of St Mary’s.

“I love being around water and one of the many reasons I love Rye and this area is undoubtedly its maritime connections. We even have our own fishing fleet which I can see from my bedroom window and get to walk past almost every day when I take Luna along the river.

The very real dangers

“But it is important not to over-romanticise the sea. This community of Rye Harbour and this churchyard are testament to the very real dangers of being at sea – in November we will remember those who lost their lives on the Mary Stanford but we also give thanks to all the current volunteers at the lifeboat station.

“It was an honour to bless their new standard recently and I hope to spend more time with them and get to know them better in the years ahead. I also know that being a fisherman is not about bobbing around on boats – it is hard work and it is hard to make a living – that is true now because of things like over-fishing or changes to rules about exporting, and it is clear that this was also true 2,000 years ago for the fisherman in Galilee.

“Sisters and brothers in Christ, I believe that we are called to be so transformed by the presence of Jesus that we overcome our fear – our fear of holiness and our fear of change – and are prepared not only to let down our nets when and where he tells us, but to put down our nets when he calls us, to walk away from our nets, our boats and our miraculous, hugely valuable, catch of fish and follow the one who calls.”

Working on the water

Prayers and intercessions were read by Julia Brown, secretary of Churches Together and many of the prayers reminded us of the wonderful work that is done by so many people who work on the water, including the RNLI whose volunteers are based in the village.

After the final blessing:

“Merciful Father, bless those who sail the seas. Give them your care and protection in times of danger, and at all times, guide them safely to their destination.
Lord God, be the ship that holds us in the sea of life.
Be the rudder that keeps us on the straight course.
Be the outrigger that supports us in times of great testing.
May your spirit fill our sails and carry us through each day,
And keep our bodies strong so that we may paddle steadfastly on the voyage of life.”

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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