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Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. (Psalm 24:1)

Stuck in the middle with you

Roll up, roll up for an extra hour in bed. Even though moving from Summer to Winter seems to be all about darkness and cold weather, the change of the clocks is the "good one", unlike in the spring when we lose an hour (the "bad one").

The goodness is short lived of course, until the evening of the same day when it gets dark earlier and we are reminded that we are creatures of light. We are diurnal, awake when it is daytime and asleep at night (unless you work shifts). We are only able to be active after it gets dark because we have artificial lights, and even then it can play havoc with our behaviour if we don't get to see sunlight some time.

We all remind each other to "put the clocks back", even though so many of our time pieces now do it automatically, but it can also encourage us to consider our place in the Universe. We (mostly) realise now that the Earth rotates on its own axis every day-ish, and moves around the Sun once (ish) every year. There are some, of course who refuse to accept that the earth is spheroid, but I'm not going to mention them again.

This heliocentric set up was once considered heretical, famously causing grief for Copernicus and Galileo. If the Earth was not the centre of creation, how could the whole of medieval theology survive? If humanity wasn't the most important thing in God's creation, where does that leave us? As it turns out, we remain at the centre of things by dint of being able to be aware of it. The more you look upwards on a starry night, the more wonderful the whole of creation seems. Since the dawn of consciousness hundreds of thousands of years ago, we have gradually come to realise that the awesome scale of all there is reveals how astonishing it is even to be here to observe it.

I grew up in the sixties, utterly absorbed by the Moon landings. I found the distances to the Moon almost unimaginable. Then I discovered light years and the distances and scale of galaxies blew my mind. They still do.

Then I became a microbiologist and was absorbed with things so very very small, using electron microscopes to see single filaments of calcite on fossils. I spent many years cultivating and measuring things invisible without ever really seeing them, only grasping their presence by inference.

We, humans, live in between these two extremes of size. We are in the middle ground. Expand out and there is the vastness of the universe; focus in and we find the beauty of bacteria and virus, and then smaller still the subatomic quantum world. We are able to conceive of it all, the big and the small. It is always awesome and always humbling.

And all this musing comes from my excitement that I get an extra hour in bed.

Worship on All Saints’ Day


Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; 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 25:6-9

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Revelation 21:1-6a

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

John 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Post Communion

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things: may we who have shared at this table as strangers and pilgrims here on earth be welcomed with all your saints to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom; through 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 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.


Taunton Military Wives Concert: Saturday 6th November at 7pm in North Curry Church. Always an entertaining and enjoyable evening. ****Tickets on sale at North Curry Post Office. The choirs are a community of women with a love of singing and a fellowship that comes from their shared experiences of the Armed Forces.

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: This Sunday, 31st October. 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. I have many names already, but it is still not too late to mention someone. Please get in touch.

Installation of a new vicar: 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! Invitations are being sent out (thank you, Jane White!) and plans are being made for the evening. It is all picking up a head of steam. COVID UPDATE: given the creeping increase in cases we are having to be increasingly careful about numbers in St Gregory's. We are approaching maximum attendance. Please keep an eye out for next week's notices. Sorry to be so cagey, but we all know the way the pandemic creates uncertainty.

The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 10am Benefice All Saints’ 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