Sunday services – 30th Jan – From the Crib to the Cross

Dear all

This Sunday we celebrate ‘The Presentation of Christ in the Temple’, or as also known, Candlemas.  It marks the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season and 40 days from the birth of Jesus.  For many Christians this is the day that the Christmas decorations finally come down, and we turn our attention ‘from the crib to the cross’.
We do this literally in our worship on Sunday when, towards the end of the service, we will respond to the words ‘we turn from the crib to the cross’ with ‘Let us shine with the light of your love’.
In Christmas and Epiphany we have received the most amazing gift of all – Immanuel – God with us.  Jesus is eternally present as a light of life and love that never dies, and as people who follow Christ in the knowledge of the Resurrection, a light of life and love that cannot die.  We have received that light and now we are called to shine it for others.
From this point onwards we are beginning the journey towards Easter.  Like all journeys it will have its good moments, its bad moments, and of course many unexpected moments.  We are each other’s travelling companions and, even when we may feel alone, we know we also walk with Jesus.  There will be times when we argue and disagree about where to go and what to do.  Some of those may even be with God – in fact they will be.  We may not like where our faith takes us all the time!  It is after all the journey of the Cross.  When Jesus begins to tell his followers that his own journey on earth will lead to his own death he tells all around him, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  But of course he also pairs that with the promise of the resurrection – of new life, eternal life, in unity with God.  But the cross comes first – there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, and so the reality of the cross now begins to stand stark on the horizon.  
It is an horizon that T S Eliot refers to as ‘three trees on the low sky’ in his Epiphany poem ‘Journey of the Magi’, and which in his follow-up poem set in the narrative of The Presentation of Christ ‘A Song for Simeon’ is described as ‘the stations of the mountain of desolation’.  
And so the journey to the cross is inevitable – it cannot be refused or denied for that is to assume a power beyond God, which of course is folly.  Instead we embrace the uncomfortable truth, with the words of Jesus to Peter (as he rails against Jesus prediction) echoing in our ears “for you are setting your mind not on divine things but of human things” (Mark 8:33).  And when we set our mind on the divine things, and are not distracted by our human limitations, we see that there is a light shining behind the horizon; the light that casts the silhouette that we fear.  That is the light of life and love that illuminates our path and stops not where we cannot see beyond, but indeed passes through to full illumination.
Let us therefore shine with the light of Jesus’ love.
Sunday 30 January – Worship for Presentation of Christ at the Temple (Candlemas):
ALL Welcome at 10am for our Benefice service in St Michael’s and All Angels, Chaffcombe, this Sunday.
COVID Restrictions
With effect from yesterday we are no longer under ‘Plan B’ restrictions.  This means that the wearing of masks in Church is not longer a legal requirement.  As I’m sure many of you will be aware, there remains a significant prevalence of COVID infection in the local area, and case numbers generally remain high.  As churches we encourage people attending services and meetings to continue to remain vigilant and would recommend that where possible people continue to wear masks and keep safe distance when around others.  Your personal circumstances may not be the same as others and what is safe for you may not be safe for your neighbour.  
In Remembrance
The funeral of Mary Pinney is in St John’s, Tatworth, on Friday 18th February at 2pm.  We remember her, and hold her family and friends in our prayers.
A Prayer for Candlemas:
Lord God, the springing source of everlasting light,
pour into the hearts of your faithful people
the brilliance of your eternal splendour,
that we, who by these kindling flames
light up this temple to your glory,
may have the darkness of our souls dispelled,
and so be counted worthy to stand before you
in that eternal temple where you live and reign,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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
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