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Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. (Ps 146:6-8)

We had joy, we had fun

Bacon butties are a great way to start the day. I speak from deep and lasting experience, and today I was given one as wages for having helped out at the refreshments at the Produce Market (there's no such thing as a free brunch). Anne was on hand to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself (any more than normal) and I even managed to do the arithmetic for people's change. Bacon butties are the best: my son tells me that there is no food that cannot be improved by the addition of bacon. I'm not sure if that extends to ice cream or fruit cake, but he kind of has a point. And in any event, food is utterly essential, bacon or not. As we enter the season of harvest festivals, it is worth reflecting on the importance of food.

This week we left summer behind and began looking forward to autumn, and earlier in the week the weather seemed to be ahead of us. The produce market is always a draw for foodies, with all kinds on sale, from steak and bacon, through bread and wine to honey and cabbages. I will enjoy my steak and ale pie as well as my crusty loaf over the next few days.

Harvest Festivals remind us of the way the seasons come and go, and, as we read in Ecclesiastes (chapter 3) there is indeed a season for all things under God. A time for this, a time for that. "Turn, turn," as The Byrds sang. We live so much in a linear way, getting older year by year, but we also dwell in the seasons. I recall the new school year as a child, many moons ago, the mornings getting darker and all the mist and mellow fruitfulness, cold breath visible in front of us. We can feel a bit sad as the summer stumbles behind us, unable to keep up as we rush towards winter. Is it always sorrowful, however? Is there not joy in the passage of the seasons? Can we not have joy in the seasons of mist and cold as well as the seasons of sun and warmth?

Traditionally Harvest is when we give thanks for the food we have managed to grow, but it is a reminder also that the future is still there waiting for us to embrace it. Older generations would prepare for the dark and the cold, and we can do the same, even though there seem to be no seasonal variations in our shops. We can look upon this time of transition as a challenge to rise above or we can look upon it as an opportunity to discover new things.

We may move from summer salad to autumnal soup, but in my heart there is always time for a bacon butty.

Revd Simon

Sunday Worship: Trinity 14 and Harvest (Lyng, readings on service sheet only)


Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; 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.

Isaiah 35.4-7a

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;

James 2:1-17

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Mark 7.24-37

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Post Communion

Lord God, the source of truth and love, keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, united in prayer and the breaking of bread, and one in joy and simplicity of heart, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pastoral Care

Years Mind

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

Basil Mann, Marjorie Hearn, Jane West, Bernard Drake, 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, 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, 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.


Bible Study: The Epistle of James

Second session this week

I have already publicised the bible study we are doing next month, beginning this coming Thursday in fact. There has been a little rethinking about the times and venues. I picked the date from mid-air: it seemed the only way to get things underway. However, I have since discovered that because there is so much going on beyond the churches on Thursdays (still getting the hang of this...) I have decided to on the study twice on a Thursday. This will hopefully enable people to come along according to their own schedule.

So, the sessions will run at 4pm in North Curry (in church) and (THIS WEEK ONLY!) 7.30pm in Stoke St Gregory (in the church room). You can mix and match, come to one (or both!) and change from week to week. I hope that will be flexible enough for people.

Just to remind you what the study is all about, the Epistle of James has much to offer as to how we view the world as Christians. In these times of global turmoil and the ever impending onset of climate change, we need to be aware of how our faith directs our behaviour. James writes about the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, the need to follow Christ and live in "The Way" as the early followers of Jesus described themselves. As COP26 looms over the horizon, it is worth reflecting how we, the Athelney Benefice, are part of this bigger picture.

What you need to do in preparation for the study sessions:

Not much. And nothing is obligatory! However, if you can, please do have a look at James's Epistle. Also, if you can, please do give some thought to how you step out into a world of challenge and turmoil. Also, also, if you can, please pray for how we learn together. Other than that, just turn up.

Harvest Festivals

The season of harvest is upon us. Our four parishes will be celebrating harvest as follows: Lyng on 5th September at 6.30pm, Burrowbridge on 26th September at 10am, North Curry also on 26th September and also at 10am and Stoke St Gregory on 3rd October at 11am.

All Souls and All Saints

Some advance notice: All Saints (1st November) and All Souls (2nd November) will both be marked on 31st October this year. As each is a distinct feast day, we shall be holding two distinct services, and both be Benefice services: All Saints at 10am in North Curry and All Souls at 5pm in Burrowbridge. Liturgically and theologically All Saints is a moment to celebrate the saints in heaven, known and unknown, and is a more general acknowledgement of the lives of those who have gone before as disciples of Christ across the millennia. All Souls is a much more intimate moment in the calendar, when we remember those known to us who have died recently. The last time we gathered for All Souls was 2019, before covid and before funerals were required to be so curtailed. During the pandemic so many of us lost loved ones and were unable to mark their passing in the desired way. All Souls will be a time to acknowledge this, to give thanks for all those who have died and to mark the moment appropriately. The service is open to any who grieve the loss of anyone dear to them, across all four benefice parishes.

Appeal of Bells: Jumble Sale

Thank you to Helen Griffiths, most of all, for hosting the Jumble Sale last Saturday morning in her barn. I have been advised that around £600 was raised, which is magnificent. Thank you also to everyone who got things ready, who welcomed and encouraged purchases, parked cars and generally made it all happen. And, also, of course, thank you to those who purchased items.

Little Angels

Little Angels, the pre-school group that meets in North Curry will restart after such a long time at 10am on 9th September. This is a great relief and a time to give thanks that some kind of outreach for younger people will at last be happening in the village. The group is open to anyone with pre-school children. There will be song, dance, stories, food, drink, chatting. You name it. Ideal for young parents who want to meet others and who would like their little ones to meet others as well, of course! The group will then meeting monthly on the second Thursday. Thank you to Jenny Satchwell for getting this underway.

Songs of Praise

There will be a Songs of Praise service in the North Curry Methodist Chapel on 24th October at 3pm. This is advanced notification: it is never too early to suggest a hymn that you would like sung at the service. Please let Simon know, and if possible, be ready to explain a little of why it is a significant hymn for you.

The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 10am Eucharist at North Curry

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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