3rd April – weekly update from our Vicar

Dear friends

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.

General Situation & update on parish magazines

We are in week 2 of the increased restrictions.  I hope and pray that you are all coping as best you can.  Please do keep abreast of current affairs, but also, do not obsess over it.  Our mental health is as important as our physical health and it is vital that you do what you need to do to look after that too.  We are trying very hard to not look at the news or talk about Coronavirus once we sit down at the end of the day! 

For once, there are no changes to report in general restrictions.  However, there has been some important clarification with regards to hand delivering paper communications.  We are advised that this is not sensible as studies are showing that contagion can survive for about 24hours on paper and card.  As such the Church of England have now issued guidance that Parish Magazines should move online and / or be distributed through postal channels as those workers are key workers and should be taking the necessary safeguards.

Having had conversations with editorial and distribution people for both the Link and the JPM it has been agreed that both publications will cease producing a physical magazine for the time being.  They are both magazines that a distributed by volunteers, many of whom are vulnerable, and the cost of organizing and arranging individual postage is, I’m afraid, prohibitive.

The Link magazine will convert to an emailable form and will be sent to all those for whom we have email addresses on the current distribution list.  If you are in doubt, please could you email Jan Knott at rayjanknott@btinternet.com.  For editorial matters please could you email Monica Mason at monica_malcolm@hotmail.com.

At the time of writing, the JPM will not be continuing for the time being – but it will be back!  Pastoral and church news will continue through ‘A Church Near You’ websites and the new central blog site https://twoshires.wordpress.com

Pastoral update

Covid-19 is not a distant concern.  There are now cases cropping up in our areas so please be as careful as you can and as we progress resist the temptation to drop your guard. 

Speaking to many people over the past week, it has been really good to hear how people are looking after each other and ‘making do’ in the present circumstances.  We may not be doing church quite as we were, but we are certainly ‘being’ church very effectively indeed.

If you are in the Chard area you can now access the Covid-19 Support Group set up by Chard Town Council.  They are able to help with practical things like prescriptions and shopping.  Please see www.chardcovhelp.org.uk.  If you are aware of other practical concerns or concerns out of that area then please do contact clergy or churchwardens and we will do our best to coordinate a response.

The telephone is key at the moment.  Please do make it part of your day to phone someone you know, and also someone you may not know so well.  As part of those calls please ask of the other person knows of anyone in need or needs to hear a voice.  As a well-known communications company often say, “it’s good to talk”.

Coronavirus may have stopped many things, but it has not stopped the cycle of life.  There are a great many people for whom the current circumstances are having a serious pastoral impact on family life, particularly with dispersed families, but also for people grieving and have not been able to hold funerals or memorials as they would have.  Babies will arrive come what may and there are decisions that have to be made around those plans that are difficult and upsetting for families.  Please hold all people in your prayers, because we are all having to adapt and be brave in circumstances that are beyond our control.

Prayer & Worship – Holy Week

We are entering, for many Christians, the most important week in the Church year – Holy Week.  It feels extraordinary to be planning the week without the possibility of either physically worshipping together or meeting in a church.  I’m not sure that has ever happened before in this country.  It is a long-held reality for many parts of the world where faith is not accepted, and so we can take comfort that whilst this is new ground for us, it is not new ground for people following the basic commandment of loving our God and loving our neighbours.  We are reminded in these times that church is much more than architectural wonder.

There is a huge amount of online resource available for people to access.  Do look around, particularly at www.churchofengland.org where you will find a weekly streamed service and various resources.

Do also check in with our own resource site; https://twoshires.wordpress.com where I am putting up material daily to compliment personal prayer and reflection.

It is not my intention to stream or provide online worship that just reproduces what we would have done in the coming week.  We are in a different place and it calls for different approach. 

To supplement your devotions I am planning the following which will all be available at https://twoshires.wordpress.com:

·        Palm Sunday – A recorded reflection based on the Passion.

·        A recorded sung compline will be available from Monday 6th April.

·        A creative liturgy and reflections for Maundy Thursday around the idea of a shared meal.

·        A ‘hedgerow’ Stations of the Cross on Good Friday

·        Holy Saturday – there will be nothing put out to mark that day of loss.

·        Easter Sunday – a recorded creative Easter Day worship.

This Sunday – Palm Sunday

Further to the above why not also get creative and have a go at making your own Palm Crosses from things you have either in the house or in the garden.  You could make hang or display your Palm Cross in your window or on a gate!  

Readings for the week ahead:

Sunday:  Matt 21:1-11; Isa 50:4-9; Phil 2:5-11; Matt 27:11-54

Monday:  Isa 42:1-9; John 12:1-11

Tuesday:  Isa 49:1-7; John 12:20-36

Wednesday: Isa 50: 4-9; John 13:21-32

Thursday: Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; John 13:1-17; 31-35

Friday: Isa 52:13-53; Heb 10:16-25; John 18:1-19

Saturday: Isa 55:1-11

Easter Sunday:  Acts 10:34-43; Col 3:1-4; Matt 28:1-10

A prayer for the journey (Celtic):

God bless the path on which you go
God bless the earth beneath your feet
God bless your destination.
God be a smooth way before you
A guiding star above you
A keen eye behind you
This day, this night, and forever.
God be with you whatever you pass
Jesus be with you whatever you climb
Spirit be with you wherever you stay.
God be with you at each stop and each sea
At each lying down and each rising up
In the trough of the waves, on the crest of the billows.
Each step of the journey you take. 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
PASTORAL EMAILS – please to: twoshiresalert@gmail.com
HOME PRAYER & WORSHIP:  https://twoshires.wordpress.com
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!


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