Dear Friends
Tomorrow (31 March) the Church of England remembers the poet John Donne.  Donne lived between 1572 and 1631, and is one of the great orators of the Church in England’s history.  By all accounts he was a character – Bishop Richard Harries refers to him as ‘a man of strong passions’ – and much of his writing reflects his romantic streak.  Evidently though, Donne was a man of great faith that shone brightly.  He was ordained in 1615 on the orders of King James.  No long winded selection process and Bishop’s Advisory Panel for him…  By 1621 he was Dean of St Paul’s in London, and his sermons preached there are regarded as exceptional pieces of literature.  
Below is his poem, Holy Sonnet 14, in which he paints an incredibly dramatic and intimate landscape of his faith, almost reading like a love poem to God.  We might be reminded of the book of Song of Solomon from the Bible in its romanticism.  
As we continue on our journey of discovery in Lent we often experience a range of emotions in relation to our faith.  And as we move towards the focus on the Passion those become more and more stark as we come face to face with the awful reality of what God does for us, not because he has to, but because he wants to.  Because he loves us so much he is willing to put everything on the line for us, despite our own ineptitude.  It reminds us that the context of our faith is one of a real relationship of unconditional love, and all the emotions that come with that.
Holy Sonnet 14 – John Donne
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Lent Course:
The final Lent Course session is in St John’s, Tatworth, at 7:30pm on 5th April.  ALL welcome.  For the final session I will be leading the group in a meditative Stations of the Cross in the church.  Even if you have not been to the course to this point, please do feel welcome to come along on Tuesday.
TEZ – Thursday Evening at 7:30pm 31st March.  A 30 minute online service of reflection, music and prayer, following our lent theme.
Meeting ID: 861 9258 3366
Passcode: 236460
Sunday 3rd April:
8am – Holy Communion (Said), BCP, Forde Abbey.  Rev Philip
10am – Holy Communion, St Stephen’s, Winsham.  Rev Philip
10am – Morning Worship, St John’s, Tatworth, Mary Dewar
Sunday 10th April:
On Palm Sunday there is a Benefice Service at St Michael’s, Chaffcombe.  10:30am.  ALL WELCOME.  Part of the service will be a dramatic reading of the Passion.  If you would like to take part in that reading and have not already volunteered then please contact Rev Michelle on this email address or phone on 221286.  At the end of the service we will process to the village hall for coffee and cake!
We continue to hold the situation in Ukraine in our prayers, all those involved in that conflict, and all those living in fear.
Please hold the following people from our parishes in your prayers:
Dave and Terri Boyland; Sheila Clement; John and Wendy Cotton; Hannah Knott; Mary Marsh; Tony Taylor; Rosemary Walton; Margaret Bandy; Dorothy White, Tony Meech, Di Nicholls.
We remember those who we love but see no longer, remembering especially at this time Raymond Haines.  Raymond Haines’ funeral is in St Mary’s Thorncombe at 1430 on 1 April.  
Please hold our three schools in your prayers this week and next.  All three schools are making visits to our churches over the coming days for Easter services and interactive Easter story sessions.  Please also pray for all those involved in delivering those events!
The Collect for the 5th Sunday of Lent:
Gracious Father,
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
My 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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