Tomorrow is the feast day for St Mary Magdalene. Our Thursday Evening Zoom service (TEZ) will focus on Mary and explore something of who she was and her unerring faith. Do see below the details on how to join that service.
Of course, we are blessed to have one of our churches in the Benefice dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, that being the parish church in Cricket Malherbie. If you have never visited the church there then please do! It is a wonderful, intimate, and prayerful space, both inside and outside the church. The large west window has a beautiful stained glass of Mary Magdalene, which, on a sunny evening as the sun sets behind it, lights up the whole church in a rainbow of colour.
It was on such an evening on Easter Day this year that I was particularly struck by the faith and witness of Mary Magdalene. It was a beautiful evening and we were celebrating the Eucharist in the church. It was the first Sunday back in churches after the lockdown and so in many ways had extra poignancy given that Easter Sunday is all about rejoicing in the resurrection!
As I stood up to lead the service it was so bright through the west window that essentially I could not see the congregation due to the silhouette created – instead all I could really see was the incredibly bright image of Mary Magdalene! The Gospel reading for Easter Sunday this year was John 20:1-18 which, if you follow that link, you will see is focused on Mary’s witness to the resurrection. In that place, in that time, it just felt like her journey was really being held up to us to take note of.
Despite much rumour and assumption there really is not much known about Mary’s background. The only scriptural reference to a troubled background before following Jesus is found in Luke 8:2, where we hear that she had 7 demons driven out from her. This is also repeated in some translations of Mark 16:9. The Gospels instead focus on her presence, her faith, and her witness. She has experienced healing through Jesus and she now stands by him steadfastly. It is Mary Magdalene that is the first to discover the empty tomb, and she is the only one to remain there further to its discovery, and the first person to witness the resurrected Christ.
You can feel Mary's emotions of grief, love, relief and amazement as the narrative unfolds. And then as the truth sinks in, Jesus really is back, the new reality dawns. Jesus says ‘Do not hold on to me…’ (John 20:17). Now it is time to be brave, to think big, to release, to dare to look beyond the known… And how true that it is for us today. Here is a short poem from Ann Lewin on this passage:
Ann Lewin – Easter Morning:
Do not cling…
Let me be bigger than your
Heart can hold.
Rise with me to a
Step 4 out of Lockdown
I met with the Churchwardens of the 5 parish churches in the Benefice yesterday to discuss and agree our position and preferred approach to responding to the latest stage in the COVID lockdown easing. The Church of England published their formal guidance on Friday and you can read it here.
In a nutshell all legal restrictions have been lifted and it is now up to each church, through the Incumbent (Vicar), as to the preferred position. We cannot continue to require personal restrictions (such as face masks and track and trace), but we can set out our expectations. In the Two Shires Benefice, comprising the parishes of Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Cricket Malherbie, and Chaffcombe, these are as follows:
Given the ongoing prevalence of COVID in our area we would respectfully request that people attending church, where others are present:
· Continue to wear masks – especially while moving around
· Be conscious of personal space around others and seek to ‘social distance’ wherever possible
· Try and avoid physical contact with others – i.e. continue to exchange ‘peace’ through signing.
· Be acutely aware of the needs of each other and that one person’s comfort level over relaxing restrictions may be raising another’s well founded anxiety.
· To continue to use the QR code scan or fill in the attendance register.
We have also agreed to the following:
· We will resume congregational singing during services inside churches. However, I would request that people remain seated.
· Hospitality may now be offered before or after church services (Tea / Coffee etc…). Each church will make a decision on the nature of that as part of their own risk assessment.
· Although the Church of England guidance has allowed for the resumption of offering the chalice at The Eucharist, we do not feel comfortable doing so at this time and will continue with offering the Sacrament through the bread alone whilst COVID cases remain high.
I must emphasise that the onus now is on personal responsibility, which carries with it a duty of care not just to ourselves but to each other. Christ himself shows us this. The late Catholic priest Henri Nouwen writes in his book ‘Compassion’; “To follow Christ means to relate to each other with the mind of Christ; that is, to relate to each other as Christ did to us – in servanthood and humility”.
Sunday 25<sup>th</sup> July – Trinity 8
10am St Mary’s, Thorncombe – Holy Communion
6:30pm St Michael’s, Chaffcombe – Evensong
6:30pm St Stephen’s, Winsham – Service of Light
Wednesday 28<sup>th</sup> July
11am St John’s, Tatworth – Holy Communion (this is a change to the previous rota)
Thursday 22<sup>nd</sup> July – TEZ
7:30pm: Evening Prayer in celebration of St Mary Magdalene
Meeting ID: 859 2035 4599
We pray for those we know who are sick, and those we don’t know, including those we are asked to pray by name for:
Hannah Knott; Rob Allen; Lynne and Bruce Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Frank & Celia Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young; Millie (granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin); Gillian Muggeridge; Chris Gould; Brian Griffiths; Peter Hathway; Dorothy Down; Max Woehrle; Michael Mutch; Kelvin Yendell; Izzie Luty-Wells; Tracy; Mary Butler; Tom Down; Mary Marsh; Diana Kershaw; Dave Roughton; Reg & Barbara Fawcett; Jill Bishop
We remember all those whom we love but see no longer, and pray for all those bereaved. We remember Winnie Barge at this time. Winnie’s funeral will be in St John’s, Tatworth, on 29<sup>th</sup> July at 1200.
Congratulations to Thomas Palmer & Lisa Bicknell who got married in St John’s last Saturday! A very hot day indeed and a wonderful celebration. The church was beautifully decorated inside and out and the displays just about coped with the temperatures!
Forthcoming weddings in August:
Carl Sheehan & Karen Boyland
Olivia Bale & Sebastian Rowland
Lindsay Blackshaw & James Spurdle
Congratulations to Charlie Hunt on his Baptism in Chaffcombe last Sunday.
Please hold Harry Rattew, his family and Godparents, in your prayers for his Baptism in St John’s this Sunday.
I am delighted to confirm that Anne Perez (Tatworth) was successful at the Reader Ministry selection day on Saturday and will now undertake training to become a Licenced Lay Reader. This is wonderful news and we hold Anne in our prayers as she embarks on what is a challenging journey! You might also spare a prayer for the Rector as he learns to be a Training Incumbent!
We also congratulate the Year 6 leavers from our 3 schools. We have 42 leavers this year, each of whom has been / will be presented with a Christian book from the Benefice at their leaving assemblies to help them with their onward journey.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK – John 6:1-15; Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), <sup>2 </sup>and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. <sup>3 </sup>Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. <sup>4 </sup>The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
<sup>5 </sup>When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” <sup>6 </sup>He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
<sup>7 </sup>Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages<sup>[a]</sup> to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
<sup>8 </sup>Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, <sup>9 </sup>“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
<sup>10 </sup>Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). <sup>11 </sup>Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
<sup>12 </sup>When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” <sup>13 </sup>So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
<sup>14 </sup>After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” <sup>15 </sup>Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
A prayer from Saint Benedict’s Prayer Book:
Father in heaven,
the hand of your loving kindness
powerfully yet gently guides
all the moments of our day.
Go before us in our pilgrimage of life,
anticipate our needs and prevent our failing.
Send your Spirit to unite us in faith,
that sharing in your service
we may rejoice in your presence.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector - Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
3 Home Farm
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