I was working in my study on Tuesday when, in the background, I could hear the noise a plastic bag makes when it is slowly ‘unscrunching’ itself. But it went on and on, and eventually I was distracted enough to go and seek it out.
In my study I have a walk-in store – which is where most of my files are, robes, and a whole miscellany of resources gathered over the years. The sound was coming from there, and so I opened the door and, to my horror, discovered not a creaking bag, but the steady drip of water coming through the ceiling and a lake on the floor, which, thankfully due to floor levels, was contained in the store, but everything on the floor and on the shelves was drenched. Cue panicked call to get it fixed, and thankfully, although not fixed yet (getting plumbing parts in the current climate is apparently like trying to find hens teeth) the leak has at least been diverted outside.
This was most definitely an unexpected and unwelcome surprise this week – and one that we could have done firmly without. This Sunday though, we hear about another surprise, which was yes, very unexpected, but was very welcome.
We have Mark’s account of the Transfiguration; where Jesus’ appearance changes right before the eyes of Peter, James and John; he shines with a brightness that cannot be comprehended; and Elijah and Moses appear also. It comes directly after Jesus predicts his own death and resurrection, and therefore serves to prepare the reader, and all who follow Christ, that God is truly a God of surprises, that however dire or lost things might be, there is always hope and we should always be prepared to welcome the unexpected.
Here is a poem from R S Thomas on the unexpectedness of the Kingdom of Heaven:
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
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 11 February
Thursday 25 February
Thursday 4 March
Thursday 11 March
Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112
No Thursday evening service on the 18 February – see Ash Wednesday in Lent below
This Sunday it is a recorded service, and is a reflective service on the Transfiguration.
14 February – Video service
21 February – Live Zoom service (Morning Worship – Lent 1)
28 February – Video service (Lent 2)
All Service videos are available at:
Lent starts next week with Ash Wednesday. You can find details of the service for Ash Wednesday below. If you are joining live, or following the recording which will be released after, please have something with you with which to mark yourself (if you wish!) with the sign of the Cross. Here are some suggestions:
· Wood ash mixed with a little (tiny) bit of cooking oil
· Burnt end of wine bottle cork (must be real cork – not the plastic ones!)
· Face paint / mascara
· Pen – but make sure it is washable
· Or simply your own discovery!
During Lent we will be following the theme of Story. We are not going to be following a Lent Course as such, but the Thursday evening Zoom services will be focussed on the Lent Theme. On the Sunday’s we will be hearing people’s own faith stories (don’t worry – no one will be unexpectedly put in the spotlight) and reflecting on our own journeys. In journeying in this way together we will be on a shared pilgrimage, and, as we near Easter, that theme will be explored more deeply.
One of the blessings of these times of online church has been that we can share resources with our neighbouring churches easily. Across the Deanery there are lots of different things happening during Lent, and so please do use those – you are very welcome. You will find that information, including Lent Courses, on the Deanery Website and Facebook page, and I will also be signposting on our own site.
The recommended reading for Lent this year is ‘Living his story’ by Hannah Steele. https://spckpublishing.co.uk/living-his-story. Reverend Judith and I both have a spare copy, so first come first serve if you would like one of those, or alternatively you can order through SPCK on the link above.
Ash Wednesday – Zoom service Wednesday 17 February at 7:30pm.
Meeting ID: 760 8881 9201
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:
The Chinese Community:
Tomorrow (Friday 12th) is Chinese New Year. You may be surprised to know that there are many vibrant Chinese communities in the South West. Please do take some time this weekend to hold those in your prayers at what is traditionally for them a time of great importance and celebration.
Sheila Clement, who is a regular organist at Tatworth, has close links to the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission (COCM) and has asked if we could pray for the impending influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and how the church, both British and Chinese, can reach out to these people.
There was an inspiring service on Radio 4 recently, which you can find on this link:
From the Diocesan and Deanery Calendars of Prayer:
· Prayers of thanks for Godparents and Godchildren, and for all who teach, inspire and guide us as disciples of Jesus Christ.
· God of all, we give thanks for all who serve on Parochial Church Councils across the diocese. We ask you to bless them in their faithfulness and give them strength and vision to help shape your church for the future.
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, Janet Smart.
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, Molly Strawbridge and Iris Warren, and hold their families and friends in our prayers.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK AHEAD:
Thur 11 Feb: Gen 2.18–end; Ps 128; Mk 7.24–30
Fri 12 Feb: Gen 3.1–8; Ps 32.1–8; Mk 7.31–end
Sat 13 Feb: Gen 3.9–end; Ps 90.1–12; Mk 8.1–10
Sun 14 Feb: 2 Cor 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
Mon 15 Feb: Gen 4.1–15, 25; Ps 50.1, 8, 16–end; Mk 8.11–13
Tues 16 Feb: Gen 6.5–8; 7.1–5, 10; Ps 29; Mk 8.14–21
Wed 17 Feb: Gen Is 58:1-12; John 8:1-11 (Ash Wednesday)
Thur 18 Feb: Gen 9.1–13; Ps 102.16–23; Mk 8.27–33
The Transfiguration – Mark 9:2-9
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
The Prayer for this week (Church of England):
give us reverence for all creation
and respect for every person,
that we may mirror your likeness
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessings to you all