Our services have resumed 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.
The services for September are: 6th September: 9.15am Holy Communion at Holy Trinity Lane End 13th September: 9.30am:Service of the Word at St Peter and St Paul Stokenchurch 13th September: 11am Holy Communion at St Nicholas Ibstone 13th September: 6pm Patronal Evensong at St Mary le Moor Cadmore End 20th September: 9.15am Service of the Word at Holy Trinity Lane End 20th September: 11am Holy Communion at St Mary le Moor Cadmore End 27th September: 9.30am Harvest Festival Holy Communion at St Peter and St Paul Stokenchurch.
Please join us it would be lovely to see you and please be reassured that we have procedures in place to keep us all safe and well as we once again join together to worship God in our church buildings.
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.
Her middle name is Hope and her parents felt this was an appropriate name , considering that she has been born during the Covid 19 pandemic with all its implications upon us. It is a recognition that God is our hope, the One who can make all the difference wherever we find ourselves.
But hope can come and go somewhat in our lives, and some days we may feel more hopeful than on others, depending on the season, the time of day, our circumstances, and whether we feel in control of a situation or not.
King David had many troubled times in his life, and during one of those he wrote Psalm 71.
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (Psalm 71 v 14)
He wrote and sang of God’s help from the time he was born, and realised that throughout his life God had been a strong refuge for him in difficult times.
We can hope with confidence in God who will never fail us, and sometimes I take courage by looking back over times in my life when I knew God was there, and the knowledge that He is still here now. That gives me hope for the future.
Hopes is not denying that we have fears and concerns , but these concerns do not have to be where we stay. Where there is despair, Jesus can bring us hope.
I found some comments that sum this up well:
“Hoping continually in all times, places, and circumstances is not blind optimism or wishful thinking but is rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paradoxically, it is the celebration of our limitations!
“For hope to be genuine Christian hope and not simply positive thinking, we must embrace our inability to heal our own wounds or free ourselves from the things that bind and enslave us.
“ Hope is surrender, turning to Jesus and asking him to work in our lives a freedom and a hope that we are powerless to do in our own strength.
“Look to Jesus today and rejoice in the glory of the resurrection. As you do you will find strength for the journey and a hope that will never fade!” (Wisdom Seekers, Tripp Prince ). For more encouragement you may like to look at this website. Tripp Prince
“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11 NIV).
This Sunday is the Fourteenth after Trinity and today our Service of the Word took place at St Peter and St Paul Stokenchurch. A video of the service is available below. Apologies that Revd Mark keeps wandering out of the shot he will need to learn to stand still when being videoed!
Revd Mark’s focus for his reflection this morning was on the reading from Matthew’s gospel in which he discusses the challenges of trying to forgive especially when Jesus tasks us to be extravagant in our forgiveness, as Jesus reminds John when John asks:
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The order of service which includes the readings and reflection can be downloaded below
Last time I wrote for this bulletin I looked at the liturgical seasons of the church, the different colours which denote when the seasons change. Now almost a month on, the colours of autumn are just beginning to appear. There is a nip in the air in the mornings and the evenings are drawing in. “A season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as Keats describes it; a time for blackberries, nuts and of course harvesting the crops of the fields. “All is safely gathered in” part of a well known harvest hymn which brings everything together. Fruit and vegetables are harvested and if you are a gardener flower bushes are cut back or dead headed and in preparation for the coming year, compost or manure can be dug into the ground ready for a new start in the spring.
Autumn reminds us year after year what we know but often forget which is that endings mark new beginnings. As we wrap up the old we prepare for the new. The way in which we end, shapes the way in which we will begin again.
Autumn also reminds us that a period of rest now begins as the earth absorbs nutrients which replenish and build, ready to receive new planting in the spring. In the bible we are reminded time and again that God, creation and ourselves need time to rest, recuperate and recharge. Not much can be grown in the period between October and February and as with nature, it is a time when we can allow our own selves to lay fallow even for just a short while rather than rushing from one thing to another with hardly time to catch our breath. Again, in tune with autumn, we too can cut back and let go of things which hinder or prevent us being the beloved sons and daughters God wants us to be. We can also reflect gently, on whether our summer plans have yielded the fruits of autumn we hoped for. God stands by us throughout the whole of our lives asking gently but persistently “where are you?” Whatever the answer we give can rest with us through the hibernation of winter, allowing us time to stop and rest awhile before these reflections grow into a full and joyful answer to the question of what, with the help of God we hope to be and do with our lives in quiet surrender to his wisdom and in confident surrender to his love.
This Sunday is the Thirteenth after Trinity and today our service of Holy Communion took place at Holy Trinity Lane End. Unfortunately due to a technical problem a video of the service is not available.
Revd Mark’s focus for his reflection was the gospel reading from Matthew in which he discusses the challenges of living in community especially if a disagreement occurs between community members, and how Jesus’ solution to this can be as big a challenge to us as the original problem. However we are called to live in community and to overcome these challenges so we can turn to our brothers and sisters and meet Christ in them as he promises to be present when we meet each other in his name.
The order of service which includes the readings and reflection can be downloaded below
Thank you to Toby Long for providing this blog entry if you would like to write something for our blog then please send it to the Revd Mark Ackford.
Rock or Sand, Wise or Foolish
Would you build a house on the rocks or the sand? Whether you are a building or simply like constructing with Lego, this question is vital to building a stable, firm foundation for a house.
Jesus said, “Anyone who hears these words is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. It did not fall, because it was built on the rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!” Matthew 7: 24-27 Good News Bible
What does foundation mean?
The builder might say, ‘the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.’ Jesus, in telling this parable (a simple story used to explain a moral or spiritual lesson), is comparing the builder’s definition with the meaning of having something on which we build our lives. Having faith in God’s love is a good foundation.
Why does Jesus talk about sand and rocks?
If you build a house (a real one or a Lego one) you need something firm, strong and stable to build it on. Like rocks. A house without a firm foundation, a house built on sand, is not firm. The weather may blow the sand away, rain washes it away and eventually the house will fall because the foundations are not strong enough.
In the Three Little Pigs, it is the house built of bricks that finally defeated the wolf. Like rocks, the bricks provided a firm foundation that cover came the evil that was threatened. An architect’s (a person who designs buildings) drawings always began with a firm foundation constructed of something hard. A foundation can also be the beginning of something or the first part. In schools, we have the Early Years Foundation Stage which are the first years of schooling on which our education builds. Getting the foundations right is vital.
Try building two small houses out of Lego. If you have it place one on a pile of rocks and the other on a pile of sand. Pour water over them and watch what happens. Which is built on a good foundation?
God wants us to build our lives on strong foundations just like the wise man.
I have a Lectionary Year 2019-2020 poster on the wall facing me close to my computer so I can see which festivals are approaching, the readings for each Sunday and the colours of the Liturgical year as they change according to the church seasons. From the 14th June right up to 22nd November the colour is green which many of us know as ‘Ordinary time’ or ‘Proper time’. 28 weeks of time after all the great events which occur earlier and up to June of our Christian calendar.
It struck me that Ordinary time this is not in our lives today. Anything but, as we try and adjust to the latest guidance on how we may or may not continue living our lives. Again looking at this calendar and the changing colours, as we enter Advent (purple) Christmas Day (gold) Epiphany (green) Lent (purple) Palm Sunday (red) Easter Day (gold) and the last colour before our Ordinary Time, Pentecost (red), there is a sense of rhythm and consistency as we prepare our churches for a new festival to enrich and focus our worship.
This year, because of the corona virus we were unable to celebrate our greatest festival of Easter in church which was a great sadness to many of us.
However, we are now able to return once more to our churches for worship even though it is and has to be for now, different. Can we put aside the inconveniences of roped off seats, the disappointment of not being able to sing, the distancing between each other and the wearing of masks and other things besides and give thanks that we can be together to freely worship our God? Whatever the building, whatever the place surely the heart of being there is to meet with God. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18 v 20).
Beautiful cathedrals with glorious music (lovely though they are) or smaller, rural churches like those in our benefice offer us a place to find God and find peace and forgiveness in our lives, this is what God wants for us and he doesn’t need everything beautifully in place to meet us there! We will of course return to making plans for our respective churches when we leave “Ordinary time”. As we return to the familiar festival seasons, may we find that confidence and sense of place so that no matter what, we know we are loved and precious to our God where ever we are and in whatever situations we are in, he is there and always will be.