Weekly Parishes Update – Wed 3rd March

Dear Friends

It is no secret that my favourite poet is R S Thomas, and I am often drawn to his words when collecting my thoughts.  I fear that over the months, and nearly a year (!), I have overburdened you, the reader, with his melancholic style.  If so, I apologise!

Today I offer you another, this time it is ‘The chapel’, and you will find it below.  But first the context of my thoughts. 

We are again looking forward to soon being able to be together for regular worship in church buildings, and we hope and pray that this lockdown exit will be more sustainable than the previous two!  It certainly feels different, and we have genuine glimpses of hope.

But we must not be under the false illusion that, once the pandemic is in the rear view mirror, resumed Sunday worship in church buildings is the silver bullet that saves the day.  There is much in the press (mostly one end of the press that has long been taking shots at the Church) that, through a guise of lament, seems determined to ring the death knell for the future of the Church of England and the parish system.  It is sensationalist, hurtful, and deeply unhelpful.  It is naïve of the immense amount of work and ministry that has been happening in a very different way in the past 12 months, and also a shocking misunderstanding of actually what normal church life is about.  Newsflash: Being Christian (and that includes Anglicans…) is not a 1 hour activity on a Sunday morning.  I know – it’s a shock.  There are 167 other hours in the week when you are still a Christian!

However, as damaging as the headlines may be, and we may want to recoil and shout ‘not fair!’, there is an element of truth.  Cracks have been exposed by the pandemic that will not, and cannot, be papered over.  There is a sustainability issue that is a clear and present danger, and it runs deep into our structure.  We should not just place this at the door of the virus though.  It was already there, but recent events have thrown it into sharp focus.  There will be difficult decisions to make, that is for sure.  But they will not all be bad.  Our Christian faith is built on faith, hope and love.  Given the right conditions, those will flourish, and they can never be destroyed.  It is our job to discern and create those conditions.  God will do the rest.

Let us not forget that our faith is a resurrection faith.  We often forget that.  That Faith, Hope and Love is not rooted in an empty promise or a distant dream, but the reality that all was lost, there was nothing, and then there was everything. 

The future of the church, of our faith, is already here.  It is in all of us, and it is for us to listen and be moved by that.

Here is ‘The Chapel’, which could have been written today, but was actually first published in 1975:

The Chapel

A little aside from the main road,
becalmed in a last-century greyness,
there is the chapel, ugly, without the appeal
to the tourist to stop his car
and visit it. The traffic goes by,
and the river goes by, and quick shadows
of clouds, too, and the chapel settles
a little deeper into the grass.

But here once on an evening like this,
in the darkness that was about
his hearers, a preacher caught fire
and burned steadily before them
with a strange light, so that they saw
the splendour of the barren mountains
about them and sang their amens
fiercely, narrow but saved
in a way that men are not now.

R S Thomas



Sunday Worship

During Lent all our Sunday services are at 10am on Zoom:




Meeting ID: 759 1823 9934

Passcode: twoshires


For audio only from a telephone you can phone any of the following and hear the service. 


0131 460 1196

0203 481 5240

0203 901 7895

0208 080 6591

0208 080 6592

0330 088 5830


Meeting ID: 759 1823 9934

Tel Passcode: 544471966


The services are recorded as they are streamed, and are available later in the day at:






This Sunday, due to family commitments there may be a delay in getting the video uploaded as fast as you are used to!


Last Sunday it was a privilege to hear from Jason Stevens as our interview guest, who answered the 4 questions below.  If you missed it you can watch the interview again on the links above, and indeed all the videos through Lent:


1.     How would you describe your journey of faith?

2.     Is there a particular object, picture or maybe a piece of music that has been, or is, important to you in your faith?

3.     Is there a place / places that has / have particular importance to you?

4.     If you had to pick just one passage from the Bible, what would it be?


This Sunday Archdeacon Simon Hill is in the hot seat with the same questions, and we look forward to welcoming him and hearing his reflections


Virtually Coffee


Again, really good to catch up with people after the service.  Do stay ‘online’ after the service has finished for a natter about anything in particular.  Space to just share and be together.


Thursday evening Zoom services – 7:30pm

During Lent our usual Thursday evening Zoom sessions are focussed on our theme of Story and Pilgrimage.  Last week Rev Michelle provided an audio reflection based on our favourite books.  You can follow it again at https://twoshires.wordpress.com/lent


This week it is a guided meditation on the parable of the prodigal son, thinking about ‘journey’ in terms of pilgrimage, which I will lead live on Zoom using a mediation written for us by Michelle.  All are welcome!


All services at 7:30pm on the following dates:


4 March

11 March

18 March

25 March


Join Zoom Meeting:



Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112

Passcode: twoshires


For audio only on a phone you can call any of:


0203 481 5240

0203 901 7895

0131 460 1196

0203 051 2874

0203 481 5237


Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112

Passcode: 794587565





All churches continue to be open during the week for an hour at 11am for private individual prayer. 


Wednesdays – Tatworth, Cricket Malherbie at 11am

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:




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, Tracy.


We remember all those whom we love but see no longer, and pray for all those bereaved.  We remember Iris Warren, Peggy Larcombe, John Harris, Les Holloway and Michelle Govier, and hold all their families and friends in our prayers.   




Thurs 4 Mar:  Jer 17.5–10; Ps 1; Lk 16.19–end

Fri 5 Mar:  Gen 37.3–4, 12–13, 17–28; Ps 105.16–22; Mt 21.33–43, 45–46

Sat 6 Mar:  Mic 7.14–15, 18–20; Ps 103.1–4, 9–12; Lk 15.1–3, 11–end

Sun 7 Mar:  1 Cor 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

Mon 9 Mar:   2 Kgs 5.1–15; Ps 42.1–2, Ps 43.1–4; Lk 4.24–30

Tues 10 Mar:  Dan 2.20–23; Ps 25.3–10; Mt 18.21–end

Wed 11 Mar:  Deut 4.1, 5–9; Ps 147.13–end; Mt 5.17–19

Thurs 12 Mar:  Jer 7.23–28; Ps 95.1–2, 6–end; Lk 11.14–23

Focus passage: – John 2:13-22

Jesus Clears the Temple Courts

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.


A Prayer for this week:

Below is a prayer from Sister Gemma Simmonds:


Lord Jesus,

how blind we can be to your presence in our lives.


Speak to us in word and sacrament. 

Reveal yourself to us in all our ordinary moments,

so that we may never lose sight of you,

our constant companion and loving Lord. 




Blessings to you all





The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
The Vicarage
3 Home Farm
TA20 2SH
01460 221286
PASTORAL EMAILS – please to: twoshiresrector@gmail.com
HOME PRAYER & WORSHIP:  https://twoshires.wordpress.com
Rest Days – Mondays (Tuesdays where following a bank holiday)
For non-urgent enquiries please allow up to a week for responses.
Mornings are best times for phone contact!

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