Welcome to the
Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
I was queuing for petrol yesterday. Not because I was panic buying, but because my tank was almost empty. I felt aggrieved and embarrassed sitting in the queue, huffing and puffing that what should take five minutes was taking almost thirty. There I was with a perfectly reasonable need to fill up and there were those around me who were just panicking, perhaps. After all, I was there with a valid reason so why not all the others? But why were they all there at the same time? I sat in the queue and listened to some music. I ended up chatting to a couple of people also in the queue and we all realised that we have to take our time and that there's nothing to worry about. But we all felt awkward about it, even though we were not 'hoarding'.
Petrol is probably the second most important liquid on the planet after water. The oil from which it is refined is is the product of ancient sunshine, captured in the wood of carboniferous forests over 300 million years ago, and formed into gloopy juice since then. Only a few hundred thousand years ago (a blink of the eye, relatively speaking), our own ancestors were becoming humans and only a few hundred years go we began to use that gloopy juice. Now we are a sprawling presence across the globe, standing on garage forecourts wondering if there's enough to go around.
And now there is the sudden awareness of the central role that carbon dioxide plays in our lives. Carbon dioxide is the bogeyman gas. It is the cause of climate heating and the product of the burning of the petrol I was queuing to use. This week we have been reminded that CO2 is a vital component in the preservation of salad (oh, so healthy), the production of beer and the slaughter of animals, and that there is currently a shortage of this globally too-abundant gas. What is going on?! How can the gas be so abundant if there is a shortage?
The problem is that so much of what we do puts us in the wrong place at the wrong time. As humans were beginning to be recognisably humans all those years ago being in the wrong place meant that you were vulnerable to being eaten or of starving. Now it is all about global economics and how we move the gloop around the planet. It is all so sophisticated. We need HGVs and fertilisers. We worry about jobs and wealth and whether the stores are stocked. But we are essentially little different physically to our ancestors who became Homo sapiens. Indeed, socially we are very similar as well. Likewise, the mystery of God is very similar. We may have invented machines and technologies, and managed to grasp the subtle beauty of the cosmos. But when our food supply or our shelter is threatened we revert to our basic instincts. I am not suggesting this is good, bad or whatever: it simply happens. What I am suggesting is that the way we can live from here on is a way that helps us see the need for balance in our world, to try to be in the right place at the right time: to know that we can look beyond the scarcity of the immediate and see the abundance of the Kingdom of God. Cars and beer are fundamental in our world and I do not suggest we get rid of either. But perhaps we can keep a control on just how important we think they are.
Worship on the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; 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.
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.”
So the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!”
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!” But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; 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 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, Hannah, Helen, Janet & family, Jean, John, Joyce, Judith & David, Kay, Ken, Lorraine, Louise, Margaret, Mary, Mignon, Nicholas, 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.
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
Session four is this Thursday: 4pm I’m North Curry and 7pm in Stoke St Gregory. Those of you coming along know what we’re doing, those of you who haven’t yet are very welcome to join in.
But, 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.
The season of harvest is upon us. Our four parishes will be celebrating harvest as follows: we had a lovely time togetehr at Lyng last Sunday, in the evening sunshine. The next two are at Burrowbridge on 26th September at 10am and North Curry also on 26th September also at 10am and finally at 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.
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.
Stewart Heal Memorial
We will be holding a memorial service for Stewart on at 11.30am on Wednesday 29th September in Stoke St Gregory. Stewart was a well known gentleman and is much missed. We will give thanks for his life, and remember all he was to the community.
Pam Pound Memorial
We will be holding a memorial for Pam on Saturday 9th October at 1.30pm in North Curry. Pam was known to many in the village. It will be good to remember her and to pray for thanksgiving for all she meant to everyone.
Marie Few Funeral
Marie Few, known to many in North Curry, died 15th September. Her funeral will be in North Curry Church on Tuesday 28th September at 11.30am.
The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 10am Harvest Festival 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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