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A letter from Judith Abbott, Area Dean

Dear friends,

We move from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify’, and then to ‘Hallelujah, He is Risen!’.

This season of the church year encompasses so many aspects of faith and human experience that it challenges and blesses us on all levels.

Are we hopeful, snatching at good news, seeing but not altogether getting the picture? The Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday holds a poignant balance of confidence and apprehension, for the story is not yet over. Are we grieving, in pain, desolate, ashamed, or guilty? The Crucifixion speaks to our distress and offers forgiveness.   Do we rejoice, feel overwhelmed by joy and wonder, and yet need to understand further?  Easter morning comes with an almost incredible statement of new life in the Resurrection of Jesus.

As a Deanery, we are blessed in many ways and I hope that each one of us can speak of some particular blessing in our parishes and projects. We are also challenged to look at things afresh, and to apply faith to new and emerging situations. One major change is that we are now working in partnership with Crewkerne Deanery, so our boundaries are extending as we welcome this collaborative ministry with laity and clergy over the combined area from Haselbury Plucknett to Pitminster.

Also, we are all very aware of the urgent need to address matters of climate change and eco-responsibility, globally and locally and our responsibility to protect the lives of others by the way we live as Christians and in our stewardship of church buildings and land.

God’s love includes all of us, so we are also beginning a discussion on matters of faith, sexuality, and gender, connecting with the Church of England report ‘Living in Love and Faith’.

Beneath, and of foundational importance, there is each parish and all who live therein.  As times change, we look forward to seeing more lay leadership at parish level, along with anticipated changes in clergy deployment.

In all of this, we do indeed need a Saviour, and the essential confidence of Resurrection as we walk onwards.

May God bless and guide each of us through the Easter season, in the name of Jesus our Risen Lord,

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter

Friends

On Sunday we come together for worship at St Mary’s and in Combe.  It will be good to be together for the most important and precious Sunday of the Christian year.  There is much we need to let go of, and much we need to celebrate.

Most of all we will gather together knowing that we are children of God’s unfathomable and never-ending love, borne through death on the cross and triumphant in resurrection.  After what we have been through in the past year, this seems particularly meaningful.

Whatever you are doing on Sunday, may you take some time to focus on the forgiveness and hope that is now ours, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As Christians we must carry this hope for others and seek out those places and circumstances where we can offer hope instead of despair, encouragement where there is doubt and light where there is darkness.

We can do this because of what happened on Easter day.  Jesus bears all our willful wrongdoing and by his sacrifice and selfless act of forgiveness offers us the chance to begin afresh, not just once, but time and time again.  This is not just good news – but the best ever!

He is risen indeed.  Hallelujah.

 Ann

Letter for this week 28th March 2021 Palm Sunday

We hope that you will be able to join us at some point during Holy Week on the Zoom or in Person on Good Friday for the Stations or to celebrate on Easter Day.
There will be Palm Crosses for you in Church if you would like them, please remember to gel hands before and after taking one.
I remember when Stephen and I visited the Holy Land in 2010 the awesomeness of coming up to the top of the hill on the coach, sadly not walking, and seeing, stretched before us the site of Jerusalem and the glorious colours of the stone and the golden top of the Dome shinning in the sunlight. It all bears little in resemblance to the moment Jesus and his disciples walked over the summit as most of the buildings were not there, however, the second temple would have greeted them over the walls of the city, alongside the olive trees at the mount of Olives. But we caught enough of the sight to be able to identify with what they would have seen.
The coming from Galilee involved rising from the lowest city on earth Jericho 800 ft below sea level to the heights of Jerusalem 3000 ft above sea level in the space of not more than 14 miles.
And they were coming to celebrate, can you remember the excitement of going to a festival or big event that everyone was heading for? Anticipation rising at what the day would bring? Picture yourself if you can then as the crowd accompanying Jesus, weary from that climb, but knowing they are entering the city with the King. The kingdom is arriving. Jesus instructs for a colt to be brought for him that he may enter the city on its back, not a stallion richly adorned, but a simple colt unridden before. Then the road is strewn with cloaks and palms and branches for him to ride the royal pathway. You don’t do this for just anyone, only an expected King, royalty, Hosanna they shout, blessed be the one who is come. Expectation is in the air, excitement, the King is entering the city.
Over the next few days as the Jews prepare for the Passover, festival time, the place is alive with people come to Jerusalem a festival not to be missed. Most of them will stay outside the city as Jesus did with the disciples in Bethany, probably with Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
You may have noted the last sentence of the first Gospel Reading from Mark “Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the disciples”. The next day scripture tells us Jesus went into the Temple and overturned the money tables.
Within the week there would be a fickle changing of minds for some to shouting Crucify him.
This is such a thought-provoking service on Palm Sunday, as we travel through the narrative. Our King arriving in Jerusalem, our King being misunderstood, our King turning the world upside down. We have joy and excitement as we sing the joyful songs of arrival at the city, yet within the hour we have heard the moving story of Jesus coming to the Cross which cannot but touch our hearts. Our Saviour throughout the narrative shows love and forgiveness for those who have left the path and pays the ultimate price on the Cross, for us, as for the peoples then, and we leave on a sombre note.
But for now, we have the joy and anticipation.
If you get a moment, follow the Art Project in Chard, either with a walking plan and/or on line, details are here: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/hopecommunityartproject which can be reached without being on Facebook, or the Easter Stations and Trail, plus the glorious knitted and crocheted flowers at Combe St Nicholas Church.

Be Blessed

Rev Georgina

 

Sunday Letter for 5th Sunday after Lent 21st March 2021

St Mary's ChardHello everyone,
Spring is definitely my favourite season of the year. A season of hope and new beginnings, the days are getting longer – evenings lighter.
As I walk the dogs these days I seem to have more time to take in my surroundings. At the moment I don’t have to rush to be anywhere by a certain time, unless it’s pouring with rain, of course. Around me I experience the smell of freshly cut grass; the blossom is beginning to come out on the trees in Snowdon Park; the daffodils have been, and still are, a spectacular display. Recently many saplings have been planted in Chard, different varieties tucked up in their tubes until they get stronger. I can see that the fields are changing from their muddy brown of Winter to the bright greens of Spring. In the distance I can just about see some lambs. The bird song early in the morning is wonderful, especially where there is little sound of traffic. I count my blessings that I live in such a wonderful area and try not to take the wildlife for granted.
Some of you may have seen in the local press an article about Wilder Churches. Somerset Wildlife and Diocese of Bath and Wells are aiming to support communities to encourage and to protect biodiversity in churchyards. We will be encouraged to create areas for wildlife if there aren’t any at present and to protect those that we have already. Watch this space!
Jesus compared himself to a grain of wheat planted in the ground. The seed doesn’t literally die when it lies in its wintry grave. But changes come over it, so that it’s no longer recognisable as a seed. Then, in Spring, it emerges in a new form altogether, as a green blade, and eventually an ear of wheat, to be harvested and provide food for the people, and the seed-corn to ensure a prosperous future.
But to do this the seed must die: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain, Wheat that in dark earth, many days has lain; Love lives again, that with the dead has been; Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Enjoy this wonderful season and take care,

Ruth

The other sign of hope is that we are going to hold two services on Easter Sunday. At St Mary’s, Chard at 10.00 am and at Combe St Nicholas at 10.30 am.
Georgina and I felt strongly that, as we missed being together last Easter, that we want to give people the opportunity to be together on our most important Sunday of the year. Both services will be a Holy Communion service.
One of the services will be livestreamed for those who feel they are not ready to return to church just yet.
We are slowly moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and we hope that we will see you all before long.
In the meantime, as Ruth says, Spring is here, and the promise of new life is all around us. God be praised.
Ann

Manor Court School are all taking part in an Art Project around Chard about signs of hope. They have decided to choose ‘Birds of Hope’ as their theme and all of the children will be making, painting, writing about birds. Their work will be displayed on our church railings at St Mary’s.
They have asked if as many of you as possible would contribute your own bird – made or created in any way you like. The bird could be knitted or crocheted or made 3D in any way. However, you could colour or paint one of the outlines enclosed with this letter, or make a collage using whatever you have to hand. You could cut out some pictures of birds and put them together in an interesting way. We will be laminating anything that is on paper. Be creative!
Once you have created your bird you can bring it into the church where there will be a box for them to be collected or give it to the person who delivers your weekly letter. They could also be posted to me at The Vicarage, Forton Road, TA20 2HJ, or put through my letter box. We will need them by Thursday 1st April (no this isn’t an April Fool’s!) so that we can get them up and displayed by Easter Sunday.