Category Archives: Parish News

Trinity Eight 25th July 2021

Hi everyone,

Rev Ann and myself worked out yesterday that we have written between us 68 weekly letters since we went into lockdown, we trust they have been in some small measure a fruitful resource, they have certainly seen us through some interesting times.

I am about to go on my Sabbatical which will last from 1st August until 1st Nov so this seemed a good moment to move from weekly to monthly letters, plus more of you will hopefully feel able to return slowly but surely to Church.

A Sabbatical, is part of the church’s provision for ongoing learning and theological reflection. It is not an extended holiday but rather a period of time away from the parishes, thereby creating a space in which the aim is to achieve a balance of rest, travel, study and reflection, it is an opportunity to discover fresh vision, to be surprised, I hope and to come back refreshed and sustained. I am going to spend time exploring Celtic spirituality in more depth and visiting some of our Celtic heritage islands to connect physically and spiritually with our forefathers in Christ, plus there will be spinning, and knitting involved too. I will continue to think and pray for you while I am away and look forward to sharing some of my experience with you on my return.

This Sunday we are hoping weather permitting to hold our Prayer and Praise Picnic in the field up at Ham, kindly given for the event by Mark Edwards.

When we organised it for this Sunday the reading from John wasn’t a factor in the date, so there is a certain parallel or symbolism in coming together, in sitting on the side of a hill, sharing bread and food together, hearing God’s word and praising him. We will not find ourselves short of food, for that we should be thankful, I hope that some of the earnestness that brought people to sit and hear Jesus will be with us, but each of us will bring that in our own unique way of journeying with Christ.

The Gospel talks about the feeding of the five thousand men plus all the women and children as well, this is a truly magnificent occurrence in the lives of those present and a miracle we have spent much time pondering upon down through the ages. The crowd were following Jesus looking for more outpourings of the many healings they had seen and received. They have begun to focus on proclaiming him a prophet, Jesus needs after the meal to go away, to be aside so they cannot achieve the short-sighted gain of making him a king on earth. He spends the time away alone, and returns after dark to the disciples walking across the water to the boat. It is such an awesome story of one day in the life of Jesus, it must have been such a privilege to travel with him whilst being the most scary and tiring experience too.

And yet we do travel with him, he is present amongst us, he will be there on the hillside, he will be present as we break bread, and eat, and talk, as we sustain each other in prayer, and comfort, and hope. Not just on the hillside but each day of our lives, when we meet in Church or over the gate, at the shops, on a walk. The bread of life sustaining and keeping us expectant of God’s love to be amongst us all, Jesus leaving the Lord’s prayer enabling and inviting us to look for the needs of the day, not tomorrow and only enough for the day, something we often forget to focus on.

When we see the way that Jesus treated people, one thing is clear. He liked them. He had compassion on them and cared for them. There were some people he had problems with, but only because they were religious hypocrites and thought better of themselves than everybody else, Jesus gave people time and effort and energy.

I love the beginning of our reading from Ephesians and leave it here as a prayer offering for us all.

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.   

Be Blessed Rev Georgina

Trinity Seven. 18th July 2021

Dear Friends
It seems we are now enjoying some lovely summer weather and we are looking
forward to Monday and the new freedoms it will bring us, even although they
may be cautious ones. One great joy will be singing in church again.
We have been living through a long winter, both physically and in our hearts and
will we know what to do with this summer season? Summer usually brings
vitality, connectedness, rest. The opposite of winter—where God and friends feel
distant and death and darkness close at hand—in the summer of the heart, God
and others draw intimately near, light and life surround us. The heart in summer
is a taste of the kingdom of God, a savoury morsel of heaven, sweet and brief,
where God, fully present, shines light day and night, and that light affects and
blesses all those it touches.
The prophet Zechariah describes the summer of the heart as a city, Jerusalem.
He was writing to a people who are returning and rebuilding their lives after
decades in exile, prisoners of war, and so we too are rebuilding our lives after
what seems like an exile, and long also for a new summer of the heart.
As I said, summer is a foretaste of the feast to come, a kingdom that is now but
not yet. That’s summer. What are we to do, when we are blessed to find
ourselves in it?
1. Do enjoy: play, rest, enjoy God and others, without reserve and without
apology. Many of us carry a residue of Protestant angst, that makes us feel guilty
when we really enjoy ourselves, yet, we have a Saviour whose first miracle was
to turn water into wine for no greater reason than that the party might go on.
2. Don’t rush: Kingdom living is not hurried. Some of us may feel the pressure
to rush around now arranging reunions and weddings and parties and holidays.
This summer once we have been released from our long winter that may be a
temptation too. To fit it all in. To say yes to everything we are asked of, whether
we are called to it or not. But, in this summer of your heart, don’t be tempted
to fill up your calendar, remember some of the slower pace of life which we
became accustomed to because of the circumstances of the past 16 months and
continue to find that peace in which the presence of God is vivid and real.
3. Delight in abundance: in the summertime of the heart, God’s blessings are
clear and many and can fill you with joy. Delight in and continue to treasure the
gifts of summer, in our gardens, parks and countryside. For consumerism—the
sin always around the corner in our culture—will try to convince you, even in
summer, to chase what you lack instead of enjoy what you have. But we are
called to a form of living in summer that instead of craving and complaining, is
about giving and thanksgiving. Delight. Give thanks in summer.
4. Finally, continue to hydrate: resting and playing are good in summer. But one
thing any coach will tell you—it applies to sports as well as spiritual life – drink
enough water! That is, nourish your life of prayer and the Word. As the psalmist
says, ‘our souls thirst for the living God, and ask’ (even in summer) ‘when can we
meet with God’ in prayer and worship, service and praise.
Summer is a foretaste of the feast to come. The kingdom of God near, for a
season.
And the beauty is when the hearts summer comes to you, recognise it, enjoy it,
slow down, soak it up, delight in the abundance, continue to connect to God’s
word. Give thanks for this season and the opportunity it gives us to praise God,
enjoy his creation and open up our winter souls to the light. We need this more
than ever.
Every blessing
Ann

Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Dear Friends

As I write this the rain is streaming down and I can hear the sound of water pouring from a blocked gutter!  I have just made myself a second cup of tea in order to keep warm. To make things worse, I have just received a photograph from a friend living in southern France showing herself and her husband on their terrace in the sunshine, enjoying a glass of the local wine.

When Mick and I first moved here to Chard we couldn’t believe how much it seemed to rain.  We had lived for over thirty years in East Anglia, most of the time in Cambridge, which is apparently the driest city in England. 

But rain, even in the summer, is essential to our lives, and believe it or not, I have come to like the rain!  And of course, quite rightly, those living in drought hit areas of the world our moaning about the rain would seem to come from a place of privilege. 

In the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s abundance, “You sent abundant rain upon your land, O God” (Psalm 68:9)

In the story of Elijah rain plays an important part in his journey with God: “and it came to pass, after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, ‘Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send the rain upon the earth”.  Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the abundance of rain’.  (1Kings 18: 18 and 41).

When Elijah speaks these words to Ahab there has not been a sign of rain, in fact he sees drought, famine and barrenness.  Yet Elijah chooses to believe God’s promise.  He chooses to believe what he heard with his spirit in spite of what he sees with his eyes.

We have all lived, in many different ways, through a period of drought and barrenness in the last year and at times it has been hard to see how it will come to an end.  However, come to an end it will, and we have to believe in our hearts, as Elijah did, that our time of drought will be turned by God into a time of abundance of rain.  Rain that brings new growth, blossoming and flourishing.

In our gospel reading this week, Jesus experiences a moment of barrenness and drought as he is rejected by the people of his own town.  He is mocked as being ‘a carpenter, and the son of Mary’.  No mention of a father, and this might have been deliberate.  Because of this Mark tells us Jesus ‘could do no deed of power there’.  Even Jesus sometimes needed a response of faith from those around him, an affirmation from others.

So we too, need to be affirmed and listened to.  It has been hard over the past year to be together in ways which offer comfort and support to one another.  But as things return to normal we can begin to come together again, meeting over coffee after church, meeting in our groups and social events.  It is a time to look forward to and, although we can’t quite yet imagine it, it will come because we have God’s promise that he will always bring an ‘abundance of rain’ into the dry and barren places of our lives, so that we can begin to flourish and grow in faith together again.

Every blessing

Ann

The Third Sunday of Trinity – 20th June

Dear Friends

I hope you have all been able to enjoy something of the lovely weather we have been having.  Perhaps it makes up a little bit for the fact that we are to continue living with certain Covid restrictions for another four weeks. 

The weather in our gospel reading today is far from lovely as we read about Jesus stilling a storm while on a boat at night with his disciples.

Until now, Mark’s readers have been working through parable after parable about sowing and seeds, as Mark’s way of describing the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Ever since Mark 1:14-15, Jesus has been preaching the gospel of God and the coming of the Kingdom that brings with it repentance and belief in the good news. The seeds are just Mark’s way of describing a divine reign that is sure to be coming and will grow and spread like a mustard seed.

But now we are on a boat in a storm. But this is not just another miracle story, but a revelation of Jesus’ identity.

On the one hand, this boat ride means that the troubles the disciples are facing on the boat are not just physical but have a wider significance.  Mark’s Gospel sees the troubles Jesus faces as cosmic. As if to underline this fact, Jesus faces down the storm and rebukes it (verse 39). This is not just about the disciples’ fears of being capsized and drowned, but the storm stands for something greater within us all and within the world.

On the other hand, this stilling of the storm should tell us something more. The focus here, however, is not the mysterious Kingdom of God, but Jesus himself. The fact that Jesus stills the storm with a word of rebuke also tells us something about him.

 In the middle of the tossing waves of the storm, the disciples refer to Jesus as “Teacher” (Mark 4:38). After witnessing the stilling of the storm, all the disciples have is deep awe (feared a great fear, in the Greek) and deep questions. Who is this? Who is the one whom even wind and sea obey? 

Experienced readers of Mark know that the disciples are slow learners and that it is outsiders who are usually the ones to confess faith. Here, it is left up to the readers to decide who Jesus is when his own disciples fall short or fail. This Jesus, who was “just as he was” in the boat, was way more than ordinary. He was a revelation of the living God among us. Or as Mark puts it in the first verse of chapter one: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God.”

It is also worth considering when Mark’s gospel was written. It is thought to have been written about the time of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans around 70 CE. There are storms and there are storms. But this one was huge. The centre of Jewish worship and culture was completely destroyed.

And here is Mark writing, when the Jews have lost a precious part of their identity, the holiest of places, that it is Jesus who is now the revelation of God’s extraordinary purposes, this ordinary Jesus, “just as he was” (verse 36) and even someone who, like us, is partial to a nap! (verse 38).

This story of Jesus silencing and rebuking the storm points, I think, to deep questions that touch all our lives and the forces that threaten to upend us all.  It is particularly appropriate at this time, not just of pandemic, but of rising divisions in and between nations, and intolerance and ‘the blame culture’ in society.

However, the disciples were all in a boat, a beautiful symbol of the church that stands to this day. Even in churches emptied out by Covid, many of their ceilings look like the bottom of a boat. Churches often even call their main sections a nave.  So like the disciples, we in our boat as a church may be surrounded by difficulties and problems, but as Jesus told the disciples, we must have faith.  Faith that we have a Saviour who is able to silence all storms, of whatever type, and not only silence them but assert his authority, as the Lord of all creation, over them.

Someone sent me a card last year which read on the front:

‘Protect me Lord:  my boat is so little and your sea is so great’.

What I love about this is that the writer recognises that both the boat and the sea belong to Christ.  So whatever storms we may be facing in our lives at present, the sea is still Christ’s, and he can, and he will silence it.  All he asks is that we have faith.

Every blessing

Ann