Good morning, afternoon or evening to all of you! It is good to be writing to you again further to returning to work. Thank you so much for all the kind messages and cards etc… welcoming Bethany into the world; it has been greatly appreciated.
You will be aware from the national news that ‘lockdown’ restrictions are slowly being eased in certain ways as it appears that the virus slows its pace. This is obviously welcome news in one aspect and we hope and pray that things continue to abate. However, the virus is not gone and still poses a significant threat, particularly to the vulnerable. St Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 9 of the rights of the apostle; and to paraphrase his central message it is this, ‘just because I have the right, does not mean I should.’ Please continue to look after yourselves and, yes, follow guidance and enjoy greater freedoms as they come along, but please do so with great care and vigilance, especially with what may be differing needs and concerns of those around you.
The House of Bishops have asked each Diocese to consider how they may plan and implement a phased easing of church restrictions. The Diocese have written to Clergy and Churchwardens on these measures and have published that letter openly on the Bath & Wells website. You can also access it here:
It is very important to stress that the phased return to churches is going to be a long haul. It may yet be a very significant length of time before we are back to gathered services in the way we were before. The Deanery is actively discussing implementation of the first phase (clergy use of church buildings) and I will update you in due course. I will also be discussing these matters with the churchwardens and clergy to agree our response as a Benefice. I will of course keep you fully updated.
Prayer & Worship:
My thanks to Rev’d Judith for providing Sunday worship online for the past two Sundays. Going forwards Judith and I will share the workload of that provision.
It has been really good recently to include recordings and videos from the wider church family. If you would like to record a reading or do something on camera then please do have a word with us and we try and use you!
This Sunday I am taking advantage of having all the children at home and we are doing a service together on ‘The Promise of the Holy Spirit’, and which will be available from Sunday at:
Ascension Day is on Thursday 21st May. Traditionally we have had a Benefice service at 7:30pm on that day. This Ascension day will be different – but the same! I will be live streaming an Evening Prayer for Ascension Day on Zoom at 7:30pm on the 21st. Below is the link:
I am also proposing to provide an Evening Prayer with Bible Study each Thursday at 7:30 on Zoom, and the above link should work for that too as it is set up as a recurring ‘meeting’.
Do give it a go if it is something you are unfamiliar with.
Scripture for the coming days:
Sunday 17th – Acts 17:22-31; 1 Pet 3:13-end; John 14:15-21
Monday 18th – Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16:4
Tuesday 19th – Acts 16:22-34; John 16:5-11
Wednesday 20th – Acts 17:15, 22 – 18:1; John 16:12-15
Thursday 21st (Ascension Day) – Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:15-end; Luke 24:44-end
Friday 22nd – Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23
Saturday 23rd – Acts 18:22-end; John 16:23-28
To think about:
Whilst we start to see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, it is a good time to being to think about what ‘normal’ might look like in time to come. We will all have learnt things, about ourselves, our communities, our faith. There will have been challenges met, pains suffered, joys to be had. All of that will form part of the fabric of what it is to ‘be’, now and going forwards. Do think about that. Reflect on these things and spend time thinking about what a new normal might look like, what you would like to see!
A poem from R S Thomas that I think is beautiful in thinking about new things to come:
The Unborn Daughter
On her unborn in the vast circle
Concentric with our finite lives,
On her unborn, her name uncurling
Like a young fern within the mind;
On her unclothed with flesh or beauty
In the womb’s darkness, I bestow
The formal influence of the will,
The wayward influence of the heart,
Weaving upon her fluid bones
The subtle fabric of her being.
Hair, hands and eyes, the body’s texture,
Shot with the glory of the soul.
With every blessing for the week ahead,
The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
3 Home Farm
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