Yesterday I took a funeral, which we held outside at the graveside. It was one of those weather days when you’re not quite sure what it’s going to do. And in the time we were there we had all of wind, rain and sunshine. I was glad of my heavy cloak one minute and the next I was wishing I wasn’t wearing it.
After the opening prayers I led the gathered family in an acapella rendition of Morning has Broken. I say acapella, but really we had the best accompaniment you could ask for. The birds were singing and the wind rustled in the trees.
Afterwards, as I walked back to my car, a broad Somerset accent broke my footsteps, “lovely song that Vicar… who sang it?” I turned and recognised one of the family. I cheekily responded, “I did!” He laughed, and said, “it were in the charts years ago – just can’t remember who sang it…”. “Cat Stevens” I replied. “That were him! Lovely song – words are so powerful. I always think that – especially when you can hear the birds singing too” And he’s absolutely right.
We can get disheartened by headlines and statistics. Worries about the damage being done to what we know and love – and concerned about what the future might hold. But somehow God IS in the midst of us, gently reminding us that, like in the opening prayer of the words of burial, ‘we flourish like a flower of the field; when the wind goes over it, it is gone and its place will know it no more. But the merciful goodness of the Lord endures for ever and ever…’
Here are the words of Morning had Broken, which was indeed sung by Cat Stevens in 1971, but was actually written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931.
Morning has broken,
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird;
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing
Fresh from the Word.
Sweet the rain’s new fall,
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass;
Praise for the sweetness,
Of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness
Where his feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight,
Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light
Eden saw play;
Praise with elation,
Praise every morning,
Of the new day.
Although we are not using our church buildings for worship during the current Lockdown, you can join us for worship online as follows:
Thursday Evening Zoom – each Thursday in term time:
Thursday 4 February
Thursday 11 February
Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112
No Thursday evening service on the 18 February – see Ash Wednesday in Lent below
This Sunday we have Rev’d Michelle Butcher preaching for us during the Live service as below.
7 February – Live Zoom service (Communion – please do have something with you)
14 February – Video service
21 February – Live Zoom service (Morning Worship – Lent 1)
28 February – Video service (Lent 2)
Sunday Zoom link for live services as above:
Meeting ID: 759 1823 9934
Live Sunday services will also be recorded and uploaded as video for those not able to access Zoom.
All Service videos are available at:
The theme I have chosen this year is Pilgrimage and Story. Sharing stories is at the very heart of our faith, and it is at the heart of simply being human too. Pilgrimage is often thought of as a physical journey, done for reasons of faith, either to somewhere or between A & B. But it doesn’t need to involve travel; at its core it is about enabling the context for your mind to journey – to explore or arrive at places it has not been to before. It is what a story does. A story provides that journey and takes us to places we have perhaps never been to before. It enables us to contemplate afresh.
During Lent, through our prayer and worship, we will keep this as a prominent theme. On Thursday evenings the live Zoom session will explore this further, and there will be more information in due course.
Can I also recommend the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book this year? Helpfully it is on a very similar theme, is entitled ‘Living His Story’ and authored by Hannah Steele. I have a copy and it looks like an interesting read. https://spckpublishing.co.uk/living-his-story
Ash Wednesday – Zoom service Wednesday 17 February at 7:30pm. Link to follow next week along with instructions!
Thursday evening Zoom services at 7:30pm for Lent:
Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112
All churches continue to be open during the week for an hour for private individual prayer. This will be kept under constant review in light of the Lockdown.
Wednesdays – Tatworth, Cricket Malherbie
Thursdays – Chaffcombe & Winsham at 11am
Sundays – Thorncombe at 11am
At this time we are asked to particularly focus on Prayer for the Nation. Here is a link that guides you through the week:
From the Diocesan and Deanery Calendars of Prayer:
- For the work of the Holy Spirit in stirring hearts and raising new lay Church leaders from our congregations and communities; discernment in identifying gifts; readiness to explore new opportunities; Jon Mayled as he manages the Deanery website and Facebook page, and Deanery Mission Priest Deborah Perreau; the members of other Church denominations across the Deanery, with thanks for the faith and mission we share with them in Christ.
- We pray for all who work in and support our hospitals and mental health centres across Somerset and for the chaplains who are key members of the team. We pray for all involved in research in cancer and mental health and for all who care for our physical and mental health.
We also 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 and Bruce Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Frank & Celia 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; Dorothy Down; Max Woehrle; Michael Mutch; Kelvin Yendell; Winnie Barge; Fi Lillington; Di Nicholls; Izzie Luty-Wells.
We remember all those whom we love but see no longer, and pray for all those bereaved. We remember Caroline Mayall, Edward Tucker, Jackie Sprague and Molly Strawbridge and hold their families and friends in our prayers.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK AHEAD:
Thur 4 Feb: Heb 12.18–19, 21–24; Ps 48.1–3, 8–10; Mk 6.7–13
Fri 5 Feb: Heb 13.1–8; Ps 27.1–6, 9–12; Mk 6.14–29
Sat 6 Feb: Heb 13.15–17, 20–21; Ps 23; Mk 6.30–34
Sun 7 Feb: Col 1:15-20; John 1:1-14
Mon 8 Feb: Gen 1.1–19; Ps 104.1, 2, 6–13, 26; Mk 6.53–end
Tues 9 Feb: Gen 1.20–2.4a; Ps 8; Mk 7.1–13
Wed 10 Feb: Gen 2.4b–9, 15–17; Ps 104.11–12, 29–32; Mk 7.14–23
Thur 11 Feb: Gen 2.18–end; Ps 128; Mk 7.24–30
Colossians 1:15-20; The Supremacy of the Son of God
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
The Prayer for this week (Church of England):
as we remember before you the thousands who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion.
Be gentle with us in our grief,
protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere
and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
And finally – an image from the illustrator Arno depicting God’s love (from Psalm 104):
Blessings to you all