Welcome to my weekly update for the parishes. Please do circulate to those that you know, and therefore apologies if you receive this more than once. If you receive this ‘in-direct’ it is probably because I do not have your email address. Do send me an email with it and I can ensure I can contact you directly!
If you do not want to hear from me, then please accept my apologies, and do let me know so that I can amend my contacts. Thank you.
As a nation we are now essentially in a period of lockdown. Please observe and adhere to the government restrictions. I cannot emphasise that enough. We need to protect the NHS so that it is there for people who need it, and the best way to do that is to keep as healthy as possible ourselves. To summarise the current position:
· All churches are physically shut and cannot hold any services, the only exception being graveside funeral committals.
· Everyone should be at home at all times unless:
o They are going to work
o They are on a once / day exercise outing (by foot or bike)
o Going to receive or give medical care
o Going to carry out an essentials only shop.
· I am advised that hand delivery of items to people in the communities can be done where it genuinely fits in with the exercise allowance. Nothing must be handed person to person, and must be left either remotely or put through a letter box.
· Please see www.churchofengland.org for further details in relation to church life.
I have been drawn this week to thinking about contrasts quite a lot. We are all dealing with a season of great change, and not just within the virus restrictions.
Contrasting with this week’s increased restrictions on all of us has been a spell of glorious spring weather, tempting us to be outside. Of course, there is nothing stopping us enjoying that in our once a day excursions or time in the gardens, and I hope that for those of you that can, you have been able to do so. It is wonderful to see the plants waking up, and even to hear the gently drone of lawn mowers from around the village. It reminds us that there is life and growth wherever we look, as there is within us too, even when perhaps we feel hemmed in.
As a minister in parish ministry, a high proportion of my work is normally spent out and about, either in pastoral contexts, meetings, schools and in our churches. All of that has now been put on pause and like so many other people I am working out, with you, how we ensure that the church buildings are shut but not the Church. The Church of course is the people, the Ecclesia (Assembly), which remains very much intact and open but in a new way.
Communication has become key, and we are trying to communicate across the parishes and people in as many ways as possible (and are practical) as we all know people who are in different situations and with different communication needs. The context set by the restrictions could not be more challenging, but there has been a true blessing come to the fore, and that is that because of that I think we have found ourselves communicating and talking like never before.
Indeed – as I try and ring different people each day I am struck by how often someone who I thought maybe struggling has in fact been well contacted and has good measures in place. Such is the community spirit – not just from within the church family, but from everyone.
The network is building all the time – there are people receiving this email who may not have received previous weekly ‘round robins’.
Many of you will have seen the growing online resource site; https://twoshires.wordpress.com. If there is anything that you would particularly like to see included do please let me know. There will soon be a downloads page and a gallery so that documents and inspiring graphics can be shared. Again on the subject of contrasts, whilst we focus on supporting and nourishing the parishes in the absence of church and personal presence, I was amazed to see on my admin page that our little site is now being viewed by people in America, Jamaica, Singapore, Korea, and mainland Europe!
Tomorrow please do use the Sunday Service at https://twoshires.wordpress.com, which will be uploaded later. Also, do have a look at www.churchofengland.org where you will find some very good content and a link to the broadcast tomorrow from the Archbishop of York.
Readings for the week ahead:
Sunday: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
Monday: Psalm 73; Exodus 8:1-19; Hebrews 11:17-31
Tuesday: Psalm 35; Exodus 8:20-end; Hebrews 11:32-12:2
Wednesday: Psalm 55; Exodus 9:1-12; Hebrews 12:3-13
Thursday: Psalm 40; Exodus 9:13-end; Hebrews 12:14-end
Friday: Psalm 22; Exodus 10; Hebrews 13:1-16
Saturday: Psalm 23; Exodus 11; Hebrews 13:17-end
We should be prepared that the season we are in may be a long one. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Try and establish routine, but also allow yourself departures and treats as you can. Give yourself things to look forward to, challenges to achieve.
Next Sunday will be Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week. We will be sending out things that you can join in with at home during those days. It will be an Easter with a difference, but know that God is with you wherever you are and however you are.
The prayer for today (Church of England):
Merciful Lord, you know our struggle to serve you: when sin spoils our lives and overshadows our hearts, come to our aid and turn us back to you again; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With every Blessing
The Reverend Philip Butcher Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie) The Vicarage 3 Home Farm Tatworth Chard TA20 2SH 01460 221286
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Ilminster Deanery: https://ilminsterdeanery.uk/
Rest Days – Mondays (Tuesdays where following a bank holiday)For non-urgent enquiries please allow up to a week for responses.Mornings are best times for phone contact!