Our clergy and churchwardens are currently working hard to open the churches of the parish for worship as soon as we are happy that we can keep those who attend safe and well.
We are aiming to resume services next Sunday 12th June, but due to the procedures we have to put in place we will initially not be able to offer the usual number of services that took place prior to lockdown. More information about this will follow in the upcoming days.
There will be no Sunday service posted this Sunday as Revd Mark is on leave for a couple of days, so please log on to one of the alternative online services that are available (See post below this one for further information).
A YouTube video of each Sunday’s service plus the Collect, readings and a reflection can be found on the services page of the blog.
Scroll down this page to find our blog entries which are updated on the Wednesday each week.
Resources for Childrenand Families
As the majority of our children are currently being educated at home the Godly Play website has lots of other great ideas for children’s activities which can be found by clicking here.
The School Assemblies website are during the current situation with Coronavirus publishing short Pause for Thought clips and suggestions rather than their usual assemblies, these they hope will be useful for parents to use at home and for schools to utilise as a resource as they encourage home learning. The Pause for Thought sessions begin in the April lists and the website can be accessed by clicking here.
Roots at Home: Worship and Learning Resources for the whole Church
During this time of uncertainty, SCTC would like to offer support to the parish. If you require help or support, such as help with shopping or a regular chat on the phone, whether you are a churchgoer or not, please fill in the contact form and we will get in touch.
I’m an incompetent gardener, but I’ve been learning a few things these past few months during the lock down we are all experiencing. A friend gave me some seedlings and I ordered some packets of herb seeds, but even these have caused me challenges. Using the plastic drawer out of a filing cabinet, I placed several pots of compost in it, hopefully planting a few seeds.
The pepper plant became overrun with ants even though it was not outside and I needed to find out what to do to save the plant. Amazingly it now has three peppers growing that look actually quite healthy. Some carefully nurtured cress seeds and chive seeds died within a morning when I put them outside for some sun, and it was too hot for them.
The courgettes wilted through insufficient water, though now they are recovering. It’s a constant job, looking after plants I now realise, and they need care and the right treatment, from someone who knows what they are doing.
This got me thinking about gardens in the Bible and there are several where important events took place. There is the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve ate the fruit forbidden by God, and the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed by Judas, and we read of Mary supposing the risen Jesus to be the gardener on the day of His resurrection until she realised otherwise.
In fact, it’s true, that God is the gardener. In John 15 we read Jesus’ words: “ I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” and as his disciples, we are likened to branches of the vine, which need pruning and tending.
During the winter months, vines are dormant, and in some climates, need to be buried when it is very cold, for their own protection. Then they need regular pruning to keep them healthy, productive, attractive, and under control. Many vines just don’t know in which direction to grow and they must be taken in hand early on or they will be collapsing trellises, pulling down fences, causing all sorts of damage.
And that can be a bit like us as God’s children as we don’t always go the right way either. In His loving caring way, God will prune us and enable us to become what He wants us to be, even if it is not always comfortable – but it is always for our good.
This Sunday is the Third after Trinity and in today’s service of Holy Communion from St Nicholas Ibstone Revd Mark’s focus for his reflection is on the gospel reading from Matthew and how we can make a difference in our world by the smallest of acts of hospitality even something as simple as offering someone a cup of water. Jesus tells us that every single one of those small acts is important – even eternally significant. It is something every one of us can achieve and by doing so we can find God in those smallest of good deeds.
You can take part in the service by first downloading the order of service by clicking on the link below and then by watching the YouTube video
Lives have been changed in so many ways during this period of corona virus. Dealing with isolation, loneliness, fear and bereavement have been the hardest part of all and to those who have experienced all or some of these situations it will take time to recover and heal. But there have also been wonderful acts of kindness, sharing, courage and bravery and these are the things we can celebrate and give thanks for. Apart from the knowledge that these acts are helping someone, there is a sense of deep satisfaction which many have voiced and a real hope that this will not be lost. We stand on the brink of change once more, can we go forward bringing with us all the good, the love the revaluing what is important that we have learnt, or will life return to the old values of wealth, achievement and power being the measuring stick of success?
There is a lovely story which I think illustrates my above thoughts, it could even be a parable that Jesus might have used.
A story is told of an old man who was resting by a tree having walked a long way on a hot day on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. A man came along and saw the old man resting and stopped to speak to him. As he did so he noticed the holy man had a pouch by his side and thinking it might be food asked if he could have some. The old man opened the pouch and to the man’s astonishment he took out the most beautiful emerald the man had ever seen. It was huge as emeralds go and shone brilliantly in the sunlight. The man was amazed that this old man should have such a precious possession and as the old man watched it was clear to him how much the man wanted it. “ If you really want this” he said “you can have it”. The man could hardly believe his ears but without hesitation or any sign of regret the old man gave his precious stone to the delighted man.
The man went on his way, hardly believing his luck and began making plans of how he would use this new found wealth that he now had. He returned home and after a few days he still had the emerald and kept thinking about the old man and what had happened. Suddenly he set off and retraced his journey to where he had come across the old man. He continued on the same road for some time and then at last he saw the old man walking very slowly in the heat of the day. He caught up with him and said “please stop a moment I want to ask you something”. “What is it my son?” said the old man. The man handed back the emerald to the old man and said “what I really want is something else you have. I want to be able to give away something so precious and have that peace and happiness to do so”.
Today is Fathers Day which you may think is a relatively new invention, but within European Roman Catholicism it has been celebrated since medieval times on St Joseph’s Day March 19th. Here though in the United Kingdom, society has adopted the American way of celebrating it on the third Sunday of June a tradition founded by Sonora Smart Dodd in 1910.
She held her father in great esteem and while hearing a church sermon about the newly recognized Mother’s Day at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Sonora felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition as well so she approached the local Ministerial Alliance and suggested her own father’s birthday, of June 5, as the day of honour for fathers. The Alliance chose the third Sunday in June instead. It has since become a day of honouring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society.
Revd Mark this morning celebrates this special day in a Service of the Word at St Mary le Moor Cadmore End using the reading of the Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son as the focus for his reflection.
You can take part in the service by first downloading the order of service by clicking on the link below and then by watching the YouTube video
Great news! The four churches of the parish are now open for private prayer.
Please look at the individual church websites to see more information on opening times and when visiting please observe and follow all displayed notices so that our churches remain safe and open for all.
Within each of them you will find a copy of the above prayer, which John Rutter adapted and set to music in his wonderful anthem of the same name. Rutter has said that his English-only composition is based on “an old Gaelic rune”, and that he added a line mentioning Jesus and the word Amen, to make it also a Christian anthem.
I have a copy of the prayer in my living room in the vicarage and for me it often forms a focal point for my personal prayer as I read it and in a sense breath it in and speak it into my soul so that my spirit may embrace the truth resting in these ancient words. I hope and pray that it will serve the same purpose for those who visit our churches in the coming weeks.
Our churches have been places of prayer for generations, their sacred walls ooze the prayers of Christians past and present and they are where you will find a ‘thinness’ between ourselves and God. We are able to connect with him there as sometimes we have to immerse ourselves in truth a while in order to recognize the presence of God, He never leaves us. He doesn’t forsake us. He is always there.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you, May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It’s the start of another week, and I pray that God will go ahead of you, beside you and around you.
Recently we celebrated Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit came on the apostles, the same Holy Spirit will come to all of us who ask even now.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is peace, something that is very elusive in our troubled world.
The peace of being made right with God comes through Jesus dying and his resurrection, paying the penalty for our sin.
Peace in our daily lives comes to us through the Holy Spirit, and brings well-being and contentment and inner wholeness – whatever is going on around us. He can exchange the fear and anxiety we often face for the fruit of peace in our hearts.
Why not ask for God’s peace today?
And as you reflect, this song by Paul Field can help us refocus on the God of peace who is with us always when we turn to Him.
Go peaceful In gentleness Through the violence of these days Give freely Show tenderness In all your ways
Through darkness In troubled times Let holiness be your aim Seek wisdom Let faithfulness Burn like a flame
God speed you God lead you And keep you wrapped around his heart May you be known by love
Be righteous Speak truthfully In a world of greed and lies Show kindness See everyone Through heaven’s eyes
God hold you Enfold you And keep you wrapped around his heart May you be known by love
God speed you God lead you And keep you wrapped around his heart
May you be known by love May you be known by love
Either of these two links will take you the music and lyrics of this song.
Our Sunday Service this morning is based around a simple Celtic Holy Communion liturgy. Revd Mark in his reflection focuses on the gospel lesson for today in which Jesus sends his apostles out into his ‘harvest field’
You can take part in the service by first downloading the order of service by clicking on the link below and the by watching the YouTube video
As the weeks continue it seems to be getting clearer that it will be a long time before we can all be together, see and embrace our families and friends without fear of contamination of Covid-19. Even though the restrictions are beginning to lift, we are still a long way off relaxing back into the time when we can move around freely, going where we please and with whom. We have come so far and it is often the very “last mile” which is the hardest and longest to cope with.
I am put in mind of Elijah, who had proved to be resilient and endured many challenges. He had successfully triumphed on God’s behalf over the false prophets of Baal, but in the end was exhausted and in the words of 1 Kings 19 v3 “fled for his life” having heard of the wrath of queen Jezebel who was threatening to kill him. He leaves his servant in Beer-sheba and goes on alone into the wilderness walking for a day until he can go no further. He sits down under a tree and says “It is enough, now O Lord take away my life for I am no better than my ancestors” (v4).
Spiritual and physical strain leave Elijah in the grip of fear, depression and disappointment. Exhausted, he sleeps under the tree and is awakened by an angel who offers him a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. He takes this refreshment but then falls asleep once more.
The angel wakes him again, this time urging him to get up, eat and drink otherwise he will not have strength for the journey ahead.
When we feel we cannot go on any longer for whatever reason, we need to allow ourselves to be ministered to. We need to take nourishment, food and water for our physical needs and spiritual nourishment too and that may seem much harder. It might be a prayer, the words of a hymn or the words from a bible passage that come into our mind. A tiny bit of nourishment which may come from someone showing they love and care for us or just being still and handing it all over to God.
Elijah journeyed on and came to a cave in a mountain. God came to him and asked what he was doing there. He told God how he had done everything asked of him and still he was alone and feared for his life. Then as he stood outside the cave there was a mighty wind followed by an earthquake and then a fire and then a complete silence. It was in the silence the whisper of God spoke to him. God had allowed Elijah to let go of all the worries and fears that had led him to such desolation and now gave him a new strength for the tasks ahead.
We may look for big bold gestures and results for our troubles but it is so often in the small things, gradually taking shape so that when we are ready, they start to reframe and refresh our spirits as we look to the future. We do not know what sort of future we will eventually find or how different it will be.
What we can be sure of though is that God will be with us. Whatever comes, his love and care will nourish and uphold us as we once again journey on.
What is a compass? A compass is an instrument used for navigation and orientation that shows direction relative to points. Usually, a diagram called a compass rose shows the directions north, south, east, and west. The prayer above shows God as our compass, pointing us in the right direction.
Throughout this testing time, through online means and phone contact, we have kept in touch with each other and with God. It may be in different ways, for example, by attending a virtual church service. A compass does not work unless you stand still. Now we are facing and overcoming challenges which we have never faced before. We are encouraged to stand still and take time to orientate ourselves and those we love and care for, knowing that we are all upheld within God’s love. We must each take time to stand still. Allow God to speak to you and think about the compass that God uses to direct you. What is God’s plan for you moving forward?
The compass is a symbol of navigating new waters, of moving towards new places and new ways of living. Bishop Steven’s Diocesan Vision is calling us to be Christ-like: contemplative, compassionate and courageous. The word ‘compassionate’, begins with a compass. Throughout this testing time, each of us can identify many examples of compassion. Taking time to thank key workers we might have previously taken for granted, a neighbour collecting groceries for us or being thankful to the delivery drivers bring parcels. By being compassionate, by feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others, we are being like Jesus, we are more Christ-like.
In supporting the 283 Church of England Schools within our Diocese, a document called ‘The Way Forward’ has been produced to support the pastoral and spiritual needs of headteachers, staff and pupils as schools return slowly to some normality. The image of the compass is central to these supporting materials.
I pray for each of us to welcome our guiding compass. Help us to be compassionate and see things differently. Keep us from making judgements about people and guidance to show genuine compassion to everyone we encounter. I pray that the government will follow the compass for all and that God may guide the decisions that affect each of us. Amen.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41: 13
Thank you again to Toby for his contribution to the blog, if you would like to write something then please send it via email to the parish office email@example.com