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Dear <<First Name>>

Welcome to the
Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin

Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; he rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven. Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance. He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind; he rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas; he let them fall within their camp, all around their dwellings. And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved. (Psalm 78:23-29)

The Narrow Way

I had a very enjoyable Thursday afternoon this week. I was given a guided tour of the wild spots of North Curry by Phil Stone. Many of you may know Phil. He has been at the heart of much of what is green in the village of North Curry and beyond, and he kindly offered to show me the sights. We spent a couple of hours wandering and chatting about environmental issues and as we did so I was reminded that so much of rural landscapes are the product of human hand. Fields, trees, hedges don't simply grow in isolation. In almost all cases a big tree remains where it is because it has been intentionally been allowed to grow. Our field systems stretch back centuries and the wildlife that inhabits them is more or less permitted to be there because we humans decide so.

The high point of our wandering was the "re-wilded" area at the far side of the cricket ground. It was my first visit there and the maze of paths between areas of long grass, bushes and wild flowers was a delight. The air was full of bees, butterflies and dragonflies. In the afternoon sunshine it was a warm and busy place of pollination and feeding. What fascinated me most were the network of mowed paths that took us around all this beauty. This wild area is there because it has been allowed to be there and also because it is maintained. The paths (courtesy of Phil, I gather) are a striking contrast to the long grass and bushes. They guide us and they lead us where the beauty lies.

As the recent extreme heat in Canada and the floods in Germany and China remind us, the Earth's climate is transforming and we cannot but accept that we humans are largely to blame for the speed of this transformation. We have built and uprooted, and we have spent centuries not really bothering to clean up after ourselves. Our population is growing and resources and habitats are shrinking. It's all a bit gloomy; and yet the small paths I walked around with Phil give me hope. We cannot expect to return to whatever bucolic idyll we pretend used to be before the Industrial Revolution: the damage already done is too great. We can, however, with sensitively re-wilded regions and creatively prepared paths, find our way towards new ways of doing old things.

We rely on large scale rural and urban industry (farms and factories, if you will). After all, we are a large scale species with large scale demands. But we can find paths that let the rest of the world regain its balance. We can keep our own demands as limited as possible and we can recognise that we don't need to be everywhere all the time.

Writing this I thought, "Goodness: I haven't mentioned God!" But thankfully a reading popped into my head from earlier in the week. From James's letter, ch 5:1-6,

"Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you." Harsh, but worth reflecting upon.

Revd Simon

Sunday Worship: Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Collect

Almighty God,

who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; 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.

Exodus 16.2-4, 9-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lordyour God.’”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Ephesians 4.1-16

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.”

(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

John 6.24-35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Post Communion

Holy Father, who gathered us here around the table of your Son to share this meal with the whole household of God: in that new world where you reveal the fullness of your peace, gather people of every race and language to share in the eternal banquet of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pastoral Care

Years Mind

We call to mind parishioners who have died at this time in recent years.

Margaret Denman, Sanna Wardle, Bruce Wall, Liz Grant

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, Jean, Val, Jan and Peter, Di, Diane, Eileen, George, Gill, Helen, Janet & family, Jean, John, Joyce, Judith & David, Kay, Ken, Lorraine, Margaret, Mary, Mignon, Nicholas, Pam, +Peter, Jane & family, Portia, Primrose, Ralph, Rita, Sheila, Sue & Robert, Susan, Thomas, Victoria … ... and for their families and carers, and all those who are in need but not named. Give thanks for those who have recovered.

If there are people or concerns that you wish to be mentioned in prayer, please tell the vicar or churchwardens.

Please note: during August we shall be renewing the prayer list. If you are a ‘sponsor’ for anyone mentioned in these prayers, please can you let Simon or churchwardens know if you wish for their names to continue to be published?

News and Notices

Covid and Relaxation of Regualtions

As you will have read above, the restrictions on singing have been relaxed, and so today, for the first time in over eighteen months we can sing in church. Please wear your masks, even though it is not required by law, since there are some who are understandably cautious about the virus, and we all need to respect each other’s concerns. But to sing is a joy and so let us be joyful in however we can sound behind a mask!

If you have any news that you would like included in this bulletin, please send it to: bulletin@athelneybenefice.com

The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 11am Eucharist at
Stoke St Gregory

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!)

Zoom Worship Connection
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