This Sunday the Christian church celebrates the life of St Francis of Assisi, who died on 3 October 1226, whose influence on Christianity cannot be underestimated.
St Francis is the founder of the global Franciscan monastic tradition, which is expressed through the first order Friars (monks), second order Poor Clares, and third order Franciscans (dispersed community of oblates). He is also credited with being the founder of our familiar nativity scenes at Christmas, introducing it in 1223 at a service in Greccio, Italy, as a focus of devotion of the birth of Christ amongst us. As part of the tableau he carved a wooden doll as Jesus, and legend says that it appeared to shed real tears when held by Francis.
St Francis was driven by a motivation to imitate the life of Christ as closely as possible in his own ministry. He was devoted to a ministry to the sick and the poor, and is particularly remembered for his belief that God was reflected in Creation itself. He is said to have preached to the birds and often referred to creatures as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
In reflecting on the lives of those in whose footsteps we follow we are drawn to those aspects and points of inspiration that hold true value. What is important. We find it when we look back on people such as St Francis, but we also find it in abundance in the people of our own lives. To see what is truly of value, of life and of love, it is to see God. Indeed, St Francis is quoted as saying, “Your God is of your flesh. He lives in your nearest neighbour, in every man”.
It is always a real privilege to provide end of life and funeral ministry. It is so often a time when the things of real value come to be celebrated. I cannot think of a single funeral visit, or eulogy listened to, where people have reflected on material wealth, size of a house, or fancy car. Instead it is always the character, the virtues, the sense of humanity that pervades. I am never shown a bank statement. I am often shown a letter of condolence that talks of love and laughter.
As we continue to face challenges today, tomorrow, and onwards, it is easy to try and find ways to maintain and protect those things that shout for need the loudest.
But they may not actually be the things that are most important.
Reflecting on St Francis, and maybe turning that mirror on ourselves, identify what it is that really matters. What is it that really speaks of God, a God of love that lives in all of us and us in Him?
The Collect for St Francis:
O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself
to the childlike and lowly of heart:
grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis,
we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness
and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
OUR COMMUNITY WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Thursday Evening Zoom – 7:30pm – 1st October
Join us on the link below for the regular Thursday evening prayer. This week will be a evening worship inspired by the Franciscan tradition.
Join Zoom Service at 7:30pm:
Meeting ID: 717 4519 2963
Sunday 4th October
The sermon and readings from St Stephen’s, Winsham will be recorded and uploaded to https://twoshires.wordpress.com/sunday-service on Sunday late morning.
Sunday 11th October will be our Online Harvest Festival! More details next week.
Worship Sunday 4th October:
8am BCP Holy Communion at Forde Abbey (Rev Philip)
10am Harvest Festival at St Stephen’s, Winsham in conjunction with the URC (Rev Philip)
4pm Afternoon Worship at St John’s, Tatworth (Mary Dewar)
Midweek Holy Communion:
Wednesday 7th October: 11am Cricket Malherbie (followed at 12pm by APCM)
Thursday 8th October: 11am Chaffcombe
We will be celebrating Harvest at St Mary’s, Thorncombe, on 11th October at 4pm.
CHURCH OPENING, GATHERINGS and NHS TRACK AND TRACE
Understandably with recent government announcements there have been questions about the impact on churches. At the time of writing this is the summary:
· We continue to be open for private prayer and Sunday worship as we have been. There is no change in numbers allowed for regular worship.
· The ‘rule of 6’ means that groups coming to church, for any reason, cannot be greater than 6 people and once in church must maintain social distance from other groups.
· We are capped at total numbers in church to:
o Funerals – 30
o Weddings – 15
o Baptisms – 6
o Parish Worship – safe capacity at 2m distancing.
· If a Baptism is carried out in the Sunday service then there is no restriction other than as already applies to the church; but ‘rule of 6’ remains.
· The ‘rule of 6’ does not apply to necessary business meetings of the church bodies; such as PCC.
We are encouraged, as churches, to engage with the NHS Track and Trace system. If you have the technology I would encourage you to download the NHS Covid-19 App. I have registered all of our churches onto the Track and Trace system and over the coming days you will see a ‘QR’ code on a poster at the entrance to the buildings. If you have the App you can simply scan that code with your phone when you arrive and you are then automatically logged. You do not then need to fill in the register in church. The system is being rolled out across many places in the country – you may have seen it already in other places.
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:
· The Golden Wedding anniversary of Terri & Dave Boyland. It was lovely to celebrate with them with a Renewal of Wedding Vows ceremony in Tatworth over the weekend.
· The safe arrival of Michael Mutch, born on 25 September to Sarah and Gavin, part of the toddlers family at St John’s.
· The safe arrival of Lucy, new granddaughter of Karen Jarvis at Thorncombe.
· The Harvest celebrations we have had to date
· The lovely Patronal service we had at Chaffcombe on Sunday and the scarecrow competition that has been held in Chaffcombe.
· The Ordination to the Priesthood on 29 September of Rev Tracey Hallett, former youth leader at St John’s.
· The people, church, homes, school and businesses in Cricket Malherbie and Knowle St Giles. Particularly their APCM on 7th October next week.
· Our three schools (Tatworth, Winsham and Thorncombe), and all young people at this time.
· The work of the Deanery; Area Dean Judith Abbott and her assistants Anne Kember and Philip Butcher. The new Pioneer Tom Tame as he establishes his new ministry.
· All those who have been ordained in ministry over these days and those following calls to vocations of any kind.
· The housebound and all those for whom restrictions bring unwanted challenges.
· 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: Barbara Childs and Sigrun Appleby.
SCRIPTURE FOR THIS WEEK:
Wednesday 30th – Job 9:1-12, 14-16; Luke 9:57-end
Thursday 1st October – Job 19:21-27; Luke 10:1-12
Friday 2nd October – Job 38:1, 12-21; Luke 10:13-16
Saturday 3rd October – Job 42:1-3,6,12-end; Luke 10:17-24
Sunday 4th October – Gal 6:14-end; Luke 12:22-34 (St Francis of Assisi)
Monday 5th October – Gal 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37
Tuesday 6th October – Gal 1:13-end; Luke 10:38-end
Wednesday 7th October – Gal 2:1-2,7-14; Luke 11:1-4
Harvest Readings (for use at Harvest Festivals) – Dt 8:7-18; Ps 65; 2 Cor 9:6-end; Luke 12:16-30
A PRAYER FOR THE WEEK:
The Prayer of St Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Blessings to you all,