Greetings this week wherever this reaches you.
A short meditation to open with from the Northumbria Celtic Community today:
If I chose to hide you away, it is for a reason.
I have brought you to this place.
Drink in the silence. Seek solitude.
Listen to the silence.
It will teach you. It will build strength
Let others share it with you.
It is little to be found elsewhere.
Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime.
Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart.
Spend some time in silence today and listen to the sound of it, really listen to it.
Our Worship this week:
Thursday Evening Zoom – 7:30pm
Join us on the link below for the regular Thursday evening worship. Tonight we will be reflecting on St Thomas:
Evening Worship – 7:30pm 2 July:
Meeting ID: 717 8400 7120
Sunday Service – Live at 9:30am and video available from 11am
Join us for a live Sunday worship at 9:30am on Zoom on the link below. A video of the service will be uploaded as soon as possible afterwards and should be available from 11am – links also below. Text version will be on the website from Saturday evening.
Live Sunday Service:
Meeting ID: 787 8800 8522
Video link (from about 11am 5 July): https://twoshires.wordpress.com/sunday-service.
A text download will also be on the above link.
Thank you to lots of you who have fed back with your thoughts on the questions last week. If you haven’t done so already, please do reply to these questions. It is really helpful and very important as we plan for worship in the future, especially in balance with returning to church in due course:
1. What has been your regular source of worship during lockdown?
2. How often do you use it?
3. What is of most value to you?
4. If we are not doing the above, what would you like to see available?
5. Any general thoughts and comments…
Pastoral & Church Building Update
This week all of our church buildings have been opening up for the first time since the beginning of ‘lockdown’ for people to be able to use for private prayer. Thank you so much to all those who have helped in making that happen. It has, and still does, take a lot of time and energy to have those places ready and safe for people to use. Do let me know if you are somebody who is able to help on a rota.
It has been good to be able to use the churches again for prayer. Somebody once said to me that a church should not be a house of prayer – it should be a home of prayer. i.e. it is more than a building; it is a place where we can dwell and really ‘be’ at one and as one with God.
Whilst it is significant that the churches are able to open for this purpose, it is not, and must not be seen to be, in some kind of superiority to all that has been happening in the absence of church building use. It really doesn’t matter where or how you pray, as long as you do pray. Having the churches open does not mean that unless you are in the building you are not fulfilling your relationship with God adequately. Far from it. Jesus’ ministry was fully nomadic and built around meeting people where they were, in their lives, in their circumstances, rather than expecting people to come to Him. It is no different for us today.
What the open building does do however, is provide a focus, an energy, a beacon, a heartbeat, in the centre of our communities that says, whether people are in them or not, that the Gospel is alive and God is in business. It is testimony and witness. It is home.
Anyone is, of course, very welcome to use the churches for private prayer when they are open and the list is below. All the churches are operating appropriate cleanliness and social distancing measures to keep you safe, and so on your visit just follow the instructions and you will be helped through those by a steward.
Monday – Cricket Malherbie & Winsham; 11am to 12 noon.
Tuesday – Chaffcombe & Tatworth; 11am to 12 noon.
Wednesday – Thorncombe; 11am to 12 noon.
Thursday – Winsham; 3pm to 4pm
Friday – Cricket Malherbie; 11am-12noon, & Tatworth; 3pm to 4pm
Saturday – Thorncombe & Chaffcombe; 11am to 12 noon.
Opening for Worship
Guidance from the Church of England and the Diocese has begun to be published this week for working towards using the church buildings for acts of gathered worship. We had a leadership meeting with the Bishops and Archdeacons yesterday afternoon to go through it and think through some of the arising questions.
The guidance is not yet complete, for example we are still awaiting guidance on safe distribution of Holy Communion, use of church buildings in relation to children and families, and also Baptisms.
There are a great many factors to consider and get right, both pastorally and practically. It will be important, for this reason, that we do this next stage together as a Benefice. There will be a need to think fresh on how we ‘do’ worship in our churches in the current climate, and also from what we have learned over the past few months. There is no return to what was before, but we can look forward to a bright ‘new normal’ if we are prepared to have bold and brave conversations now.
I am confident that we will be in a position to open for gathered worship from the beginning of August. That is though subject to whatever might happen in the meantime and further detail as it comes out.
I am putting together a Benefice Mission Group to help me navigate this new and changing environment to assist in looking at the pastoral and practical considerations holistically and be able to advise the PCC’s and Churchwardens.
Ongoing information will be kept up to date at https://twoshires.wordpress.com/contact
For your prayers:
Please do let me know of any changes needed to the lists below, or of any specific prayer request.
Please hold in your prayers this week all who are in ministry, and especially those whose ordinations would have come at this time and have had to be put on hold. Also, our schools and school children as they approach the end of this unprecedented academic year and with so much uncertainty ahead.
· The Sick – All those you know who are ill or struggling in any way. The following are also included by name:
Hannah Knott; Rob Allen; Lynne Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; Paul Glazier; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Val Joslin; Mark Lindsey; Frank Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young ; Hannah (Dennis Hunt’s granddaughter); Milly granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin; Gillian Muggeridge
· For the Bereaved – The family & friends of: Rene Wheadon; Mary Ferris; Martin Gillmore
A Prayer for today from the book ‘Celtic Benediction’:
That you formed my body in the darkness of the womb
and fashioned every creature from the soil of the earth
thanks be to you, o God.
That you knitted into my senses
a thirst for water and a hunger for food
and wove into every living being
desires for life and pleasure in their satisfaction
thanks be to you.
Let me be alert
to the yearnings that you have placed within me
and let me know what will truly satisfy the desires of my heart.
Let me be attentive
to the yearnings that you have planted in every human being
and let me be sure of what will fulfil them.
Let me be guided by your wisdom, O Christ,
let me be guided by your wisdom.
Scripture for the week
Thursday 2nd July: Amos 7:10-end; Matt 9:1-8
Friday 3rd July: Eph 2:19-end; John 20:24-29
Saturday 4th July: Amos 9:11-end; Matt 9:14-17
Sunday 5th July: Rom 7:15-25a; Matt 11:16-19, 25-end
Monday 6th July: Hos 2:14-16, 19-20; Matt 9:18-26
Tuesday 7th July: Hos 8:4-7, 11-13; Matt 9:32-end
Wednesday 8th July: Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12; Matt 10:1-7
Blessings to you all,
The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
3 Home Farm
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