Welcome to the
Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honour them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. (Ps 91)
A time for hope
I had planned to write about the environment fair held in Stoke St Gregory on Saturday. It was to be a celebration of our desire as people of God to become involved in the great many endeavours in the Benefice that are trying to balance the way we live with the needs of the planet.
But that was before the murder of Sir David Amess MP yesterday. It isn’t because I think the health of the planet is unimportant (goodness, you know that isn’t the case), but because there is a nagging voice within me trying to make sense of what we are being told that his murder was an act of terrorism. Probably the best way to make sense is for me to share my nagging voice with you.
I know that Sir David wasn’t the only person to be murdered yesterday. Indeed, the day before, in Bristol, a teenager was stabbed by someone and died later that day. Every week people are stabbed and every week people are murdered. Always violently, and I would presume in terrible ways. In focusing on the death of Sir David I am not diminishing those other murders. Any murder, no matter why or when or by whom, is ever acceptable. Sometimes, however, a violent death makes us think differently about our world and the murder of a member of Parliament is one such.
I pray for the soul of the murderer as much as I pray for the family and friends of Sir David. I pray for peace and for tolerance. Sir David will be missed. He was by all accounts an exemplary MP for Southend. His loss—in very simple ways of friendship and love—will be great. What also matters greatly in this case, however, is the effect his murder has on society. I listened to the radio a great deal yesterday and was aware of how the violence can make us all feel vulnerable; and with the epithet “terror” it all seems even worse.
But, pause. Pray. Consider.
Terror is ours to accept or reject, not for murderers to force upon us. Our media have become experts at escalating awful things so that they become terrifying as well, so much so that I think a huge amount of terror is manufactured. It is lamentable that a public servant such as Sir David has been murdered, and of course we need to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But we will forever be in thrall to terrorism if we jerk our knees in horror every time we hear the word. We let terrorism win if we let it get a hold of our heart. Terrorism is to be shunned, not fought. The fear of the world that it evokes is best ignored by seeking the abundance of all God gives us. If we seek out abundance we will keep our world view in perspective. If we give in to terror we will never notice the wonderful world for what it is. And, in a very practical way that brings us back to the environment, the beauty of creation and the need to bring balance to our lives.
Thank you for listening to my nagging voice. It has helped me. I hope it hasn’t unsettled you.
Worship on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity
God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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.
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptised, you will be baptised; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognise as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
God our Father, whose Son, the light unfailing, has come from heaven to deliver the world from the darkness of ignorance: let these holy mysteries open the eyes of our understanding that we may know the way of life, and walk in it without stumbling; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We call to mind parishioners who have died at this time in recent years. Basil Mann, Marjorie Hearn, Jane West, Bernard Lepine, Jean Derham, Jean Fiddian-Green
For those who are sick or in need
We hold in our prayers those affected locally and nationally by the Coronavirus: patients, carers, families, and friends.
We pray also for Alan, Alison, Andrea, Andy, Anne & family, Anne, Aoife, Audrey (2), Barbara, Ben, Bill, Brian, Chris & Jean, Dave & family, Fred and Di, Jean, Val, Jan and Peter, Di, Diane, Eileen, Frances, George, Gill, Hannah, Helen, Janet & family, Jean, John, Joyce, Judith & David, Kay, Ken, Lorraine, Louise, Margaret, Mary, Mignon, Pam, Portia, Primrose, Ralph, Rita, Sheila, Sue & Robert, Susan, Thomas, Tom, Victoria, Zillah ... and for their families and carers, and all those who are in need but not named. Give thanks for those who have recovered.
Prayers for our schools who are currently experiencing some cases of covid-19.
If there are people or concerns that you wish to be mentioned in prayer, please tell the vicar or churchwardens.
Return of the Stoke St Gregory Charity Lunch: Come to a soup and cheese lunch at the Church Room on Monday 25th October at 12:30. This, our first of a new season, is in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. If you would like to run another lunch in support of a charity of your choice, please call Annette Gage on 01823 490297
Songs of Innocence: A recital to lift the spirit, in aid of the Appeal of Bells. North Curry Church Thursday 21st October at 7pm, featuring The Bluebirds, North Curry's very own theatre company. Tickets £15 to include a glass of wine. Book online via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/appeal-of-bells/t-npqlax or buy at the Post Office. All proceeds to the Appeal of Bells.
Coffee Wednesdays: The Wednesday coffee mornings in North Curry have been progressing well, with many people dropping in for a chat and a cuppa. The team have decided to continue the gathering until the end of November. Anne Williams has also offered to introduce some activities into the time together; seed exchanges, chair exercises, music, anything really that might attract and entertain (and even educate!). Nothing is decided yet, but the chatting will certainly continue and the gathering might extend on to 1pm, with people bringing their lunch. Watch out for updates.
All Saints and All Souls: we continue to look forward to the last day of October when there will be two benefice worships. At 10am we will gather in North Curry to celebrate All Saints Day, and then at 5pm, we will meet at Burrowbridge, welcoming also those who have been bereaved this year and before, for a service celebrating All Souls. Please do encourage any who have lost loved ones since our last All Souls service in November 2019 to join everyone. This is a time to recognise the individual sorrow of grief and to share that with those who feel it too.
Songs of Praise: Sunday 24th October at 3pm, North Curry Methodist Church. Please let Revd Simon know your special requests.
Installation of a new vicar: At last a date has been set for my installation. Wednesday 17th November at 7pm in Stoke St Gregory. I was licensed as Priest in Charge via zoom on 4th February this year, but installation as Vicar requires a physical presence in church so we have had to wait for covid to relent sufficiently and for diaries to become available. The service will be conducted by Bishop Brian Castle and afterwards the benefice will finally have a Vicar, good and proper!
The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 9.30am Eucharist at Burrowbridge
Each Sunday we endeavour to provide an online Zoom broadcast of our worship from one of the Benefice parish churches. This is a little bit hit and miss because connection is unreliable. Please click on the link below and we will be online (we hope!)
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