Last Sunday we had the bible verse; “for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matt 18:20).
The word ‘gathered’ has again taken centre stage in the past 24 hours as, in the midst of increased levels of Covid 19 being recorded in the country, the gradual easing of restrictions that we have been experiencing for the last few weeks have hit the brakes and a back step has been taken. As you will no doubt be aware, from Monday 14th September, rules on social gathering are being tightened to maximum groups of six.
It is something of what it is to be human to seek community with each other. It is also particularly something of what it is to be Christian. Indeed, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote extensively on the nature of being Christian and its correlation with the ‘visible community’ (for example ‘Life Together’, 1939) and that we are called to be a community of love. It is worth remembering that Bonhoeffer wrote his great works in times of significant unrest and oppression of thought and belief, and eventually it cost him his life.
Bonhoeffer spent two years in prison under the Nazi regime, and was executed in April 1945. In June 1943 he wrote this to his parents:
“What a blessing it is in such times as this to belong to a large and closely-knit family where each trusts the other and stands by him. I often used to think when pastors were sent to prison that it was easier for those who were unmarried. But I had no idea then what the love of wife and family could mean in the coldness of prison life, and how in just such times of separation the feeling of belonging together through thick and thin is actually intensified. . . “
Reading of, and remembering those, who have gone before us in much more difficult times of seclusion and limitations can help put into perspective our own current concerns, and also inspire us that in the challenges we face we are equipped in the love of Christ to overcome them.
As we are again challenged with renewed limitations on social gathering, we can take comfort that no amount of physical restriction can limit our community(s) in spirit, either biologically or in faith. We ARE together, whether we are alone at home, in our small groups of six or less, or however it is.
We are all blessed to belong to a large and closely-knit family. It is the family of humanity of which we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. It is our calling therefore to love each other; known and unknown; which means that in knowing you love the other, you yourself are also loved, and never alone. For we are gathered, even as apart, and there, in the midst of us always is God.
It has been clarified by the Church of England that the new gathering restrictions that take effect from Monday 14th September (no gatherings of any people of any age in groups greater than six) does not apply to places of worship.
As Archbishop Justin succinctly put it on Twitter; “Worship is the work of God, not a social gathering”
However, it is very important to be aware that whilst we are able to gather together, socially distanced, for worship in church as we have been, groups arriving at church must be no greater than 6 and must not form groups within church that exceed that number. Our overall congregation worship capacity is unaltered and is led by social distancing requirements. For weddings and funerals we continue to be capped at 30.
At this time we will continue to have our churches open on that basis they have been since 2nd August, but of course will review if the situation continues to deteriorate.
At a meeting with the Churchwardens this week it was agreed that whilst we would like to move to have the churches open more generally in the week, in the current context we are not ready to take that step and that we will review that decision in a month.
It is wonderful to be able to share the news with you that Winsham Primary School have successfully now converted to become a Church of England Primary School. This is really good news and we look forward to strengthening what are already good links with the school.
A special school service is being held next week in their playing field with Archdeacon Simon Hill speaking.
It is quite unusual for an established school to move to become a Church school, and going through that process during these difficult times is a credit to the school and those involved in that task.
Please do keep Winsham school in your prayers for this new chapter!
OUR COMMUNITY WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Thursday Evening Zoom – 7:30pm – 10th September
oin us on the link below for the regular Thursday evening prayer. This week we will be doing Compline and focusing on Psalm 139, set for today.
Join Zoom Service at 7:30pm:
Meeting ID: 717 4519 2963
Sunday 13th September
We have a live service on Zoom at 11:30am on 13th September. Focusing on a theme of Forgiveness, our morning worship will incorporate hymns, reading, reflection and prayers. ALL welcome.
Join Zoom Service:
Meeting ID: 729 9819 1632
After the service a recorded version will be processed and uploaded to the internet
from about 1pm and will be at either our YouTube channel:
or our own online hub:
Worship Sunday 13th September:
Holy Communion – 10am St Michael’s, Chaffcombe – HARVEST (Rev Judith)
Afternoon Worship – 4pm St Mary’s, Thorncombe (Rev Philip)
The afternoon service at Thorncombe is on the theme of Forgiveness and will be a service of Word and meditation using Celtic inspired liturgy.
Midweek Holy Communion:
Wednesday 16th September 11am at Tatworth
Here are the times for the Harvest services this season:
Chaffcombe – 13th September 10am
Cricket Malherbie – 20th September 6:30pm
Tatworth – 20th September 10am
Winsham – 4th October 10am
Thorncombe – 11th October 4pm
Online – 11th October 11:30am
For the services in Churches, any items for decoration will need to be in church by the Wednesday or Thursday before the relevant service. It will not be possible for harvest offerings to be presented during the services, but it will be possible to leave offerings at church on the day.
All churches will continue to be open during the week for an hour for private individual prayer.
Wednesdays – Tatworth, Cricket Malherbie & Thorncombe at 11am
Thursdays – Chaffcombe & Winsham at 11am
FOR YOUR PRAYERS:
I invite you to hold the following in your prayers this week. As always, please do let me know of any additions or changes needed:
· Winsham school at the start of this new year and as a new Church school.
· Those in pregnancy.
· The lonely.
· The village, hamlets, businesses and residences of Winsham Parish.
· We pray for those we know who are sick, and those we don’t know, including those we are asked to pray by name for:
Bishop Peter Hancock; 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; Mark Lindsey; Frank Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young; Milly granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin; Gillian Muggeridge; Chris Gould; Brian Griffiths; Peter Hathway
· For the Bereaved – The family & friends of: Val Joslin; Barbara Childs; Percival Bale; Andrew Bullivant
SCRIPTURE FOR THIS WEEK:
Thursday 10 September – 1 Cor 8:1-7, 11-end; Luke 6:27-38
Friday 11th September – 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-end; Luke 6:39-42
Saturday 12th September – 1 Cor 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-end
Sunday 13th September – Rom 14:1-12; Matt 18:21-35
Monday 14th September – Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:13-17
Tuesday 15th September – 1 Cor 12:12-14, 27-end; Luke 7:11-17
Wednesday 16th September – 1 Cor 15:1-11; Luke 7:31-35
A PRAYER FOR THE WEEK:
Father, let the gift of your life
continue to grow in us,
drawing us from death to faith, hope and love.
Keep us alive in Christ Jesus.
Keep us watchful in prayer and true to his teaching
till your glory is revealed in us.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessings to you all,