Welcome to the
Athelney Benefice Weekly Bulletin
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. (Psalm 126)
Are you a tree or an iPhone?
There’s a walnut tree in the vicarage garden. It’s a bit of a biggie. Probably already too tall and most probably will require surgery within the next few months (fab fun to climb if you're fit enough, though). I sit in the garden and see it’s branches, growing out from the main trunk and generally trending upwards to the light. But there are particular bends and redirections in each bough that are a kind of visible record of some historical moment when the branch was challenged in some way. A bend or a "dog leg" that hints at previous pruning or perhaps an accidental break or some other kind of random intervention. As with most trees, these branches have become part of its natural beauty. Trees grow according to their own genetic information but are also vulnerable to the natural forces that surround them. We look at trees and see this history, and we call it organic. It is a natural growth.
In contrast, we mostly inhabit a civilised world that on the surface is far less organic. It is more technological and mechanical. Our tools, even simple ones like hammers, are designed, built, produced, redesigned and remade. We upgrade our cars, phones and TVs: not at all like a tree branch but following a laboratory, workshop or design brief. Can you imagine an aeroplane wing with a dog-leg bend in it like a branch of a tree? This is our world. A mechanistic one, a technologically advanced one. Yet we remain as organic creatures, shaped by our environment, often unnoticed.
Our faith is organic, not mechanistic. It reveals our background, our own personal story. It is a story of its own. Although I only recognised my personal Christian belief around twenty years ago, I grew up attending Sunday School and I am steeped in the Christian scriptures. I live in a culture that is founded of Christian values. My belief is a Christian belief and recognisable to most of the people around me, whether they share it or not.
God is God no matter what faith I have, however. God is true and God is present in us all no matter what we believe. Whilst God is far beyond all notions of design, however, the world can seem to want to impose upon us a manufactured faith: one that is designed by committee or modified through a set of rules. "If we believe, then this will happen," we often say or pray. I'd like to change that "if" to "because". I didn't choose faith. Faith chose me. I didn't decide to believe: it was as inevitable as the sun rise. It wasn't a consequence of design but a response to a natural experience. My branches are bent as they are because of the life I have lived, and continue to live. I live in faith. That inevitably leads me be shaped by belief: bent branches and all. But please climb carefully, because you climb on my faith.
Worship on the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
God of all grace, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
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.
Macmillan Coffee Morning in Lyng: Saturday 30th October, 10:30-12:30 in Lyng Village Hall. Including 2nd hand book stall, raffle, best carved pumpkin (for children). Any donations very welcome. Please contact Alison Perry, 07470 838707 if you require collection for your donations. Look forward to seeing you all. All are very welcome.
Return of the SSG Charity Lunch: Come to a soup and cheese lunch at the Church Room on Monday 25th October at 12:30. This, our first of a new season, is in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. If you would like to run another lunch in support of a charity of your choice, please call Annette Gage on 01823 490297
Songs of Innocence: What a wonderful evening of beautiful voices! A good turn out and a treat for everyone. Thank you to everyone who supported the Appeal of Bells and particularly those who served wine and ensured we were all looked after.
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: Next 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.
Songs of Praise: Today 24th October at 3pm, North Curry Methodist Church. All welcome!
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! 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. We of course need to be careful about covid during this rather tense time, but contingency plans are in hand in case.
The zoom broadcast this week will be from the 10am 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!)
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