Welcome to the
Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them
It’s Life, Jim…
We all think about the pandemic, don't we? Probably every day we reflect on something to do with the past year of unsettling experiences. Loneliness, fear, loss and sorrow, but also the ways in which we have been able to help others, to discover new ways of getting to know people, learning how to "zoom", even. These past two weeks in the benefice there have been a lot of departures, and a few memorials. People have died and people are being remembered after having had small funerals last year. It can all be a bit overwhelming, being reminded of loss. It is sad, that is without doubt, but there is always some thankfulness to be spoken of when we consider the inevitability of our end. I love taking funerals because they are a time to be with God.
There is a lot of goodness around as well as sorrow. I've calculated that by the time I have been here a year, in February next year, I will have conducted 23 weddings. Almost two every month. That is a lot: the high number has a lot to do with couples not being able to marry last year as well as weddings that were already planned. I have even begun taking bookings for 2023. The desire to marry and to show the permanence of love is strong. People have experienced sadness and people are hopefully looking toward loving lives together. I love taking weddings: again, God is with us. They are uplifting, a time when God is close and they show how we have a need to be together and to share with those we love. Funerals are about memories and thankfulness. Marriage is about hope and fellowship.
Baptism is about new beginnings and there is an abundance of baptisms. There's one at North Curry this weekend and another two already arranged in the benefice before Advent, and I've already taken four or five over the summer. Baptisms of young children are so joyful, so filled with thanksgiving and relief as a new life is recognised. Baptism is when we acknowledge that God is part of our physical as well as our spiritual existence. I love taking baptisms: what could be more joyful than to hold a new life and see God?
Life is beginning to flourish again, as we knew it would but at times we might have struggled to remember. Life is a blooming delight. Life is what we are, life is what we do, life is given to us by God. As we celebrate our final harvest festival this weekend (Stoke St Gregory), I am thankful that life continues. When all is safely gathered in, I am reminded that it all starts again. As the weather cools and the rain falls, life will follow the seasons.
Worship on the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; 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.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Hebrews 1.1-4; 2.5-12
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.” Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast: for here we receive you, here the memory of your passion is renewed, here our minds are filled with grace, and here a pledge of future glory is given, when we shall feast at that table where you reign with all your saints for ever.
Harvest Worship for Stoke St Gregory
Creator God, you made the goodness of the land, the riches of the sea and the rhythm of the seasons; as we thank you for the harvest, may we cherish and respect this planet and its peoples, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Timothy 6.6-10
6Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7for we brought nothing into the world, so that* we can take nothing out of it; 8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,* or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Lord of the harvest, with joy we have offered thanksgiving for your love in creation and have shared in the bread and the wine of the kingdom: by your grace plant within us a reverence for all that you give us and make us generous and wise stewards of the good things we enjoy; 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.
Harvest Supper in Stoke St Gregory: a reminder that tomorrow evening, 4th October, we shall be gathering for out harvest supper at Stoke St Gregory, in the church room. Please speak to Jane White or Pat Sollis for further information.
Appeal of Bells Meeting: Friday 8th October at 7pm in North Curry Church, an open meeting to share and discuss the progress made with raising funds for the Appeal of Bells campaign in North Curry. There will be much to hear and learn about what has been happening as we gradually move towards the joy of new 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 introduced 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.
Enviro Project: On Saturday 16th October, 10am to 4pm we shall be participating in the first Enviro Project event in the Williams Hall in Stoke St Gregory. The event is being organised through the Stoke St Gregory Environment Group and is a shop window on all the things happening relating to climate and environment in and around the village. Revd Simon will be coordinating our benefice presence, but feel free to join him!
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, North Curry Methodist Church. Please let Revd Simon now your special requests.
Epistle of James Study: Thursday 4th October. The final session, when we get to hand in all those assignments I set you at the beginning (JOKING!).
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!
North Curry Harvest Supper: The supper was held last Saturday and what fun it was! The sponsored charity for the evening was "Water Aid" and we raised £264.19. Thank you to all who worked so hard to arrange everything on the evening, and for everyone who contributed to the cause.
Wedding: Gabrielle Morrison and Luke Perry, 12.30pm on 9th October in Stoke St Gregory
Memorial: Pam Pounds Memorial Service at 1.30pm on 9th October in North Curry
Funeral: Robin Rudman, 12 noon on 8th October in North Curry
Wake and Funeral: Ken Hutchins on 7th October. 11.30am in the Bird in Hand followed by Taunton Crematorium at 1pm.
Baptism: Henry Smith, Sunday 3d October in North Curry.
The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 11am Harvest Festival 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!)
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