NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS DECEMBER/CHRISTMAS 2021
Pastoral Care - Christmas Reflection
It's that time of year again and December has come round all too quickly and with it all the preparation and joys of Christmas. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the presents under the Christmas tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the post, turkey dinners with family and friends, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of "Happy Christmas" to those who pass us in the streets? Is this really Christmas?
For some people, Christmas is not such a happy time. They don't have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. Many are saddened at Christmastime when they think of their loved ones who have passed or will not be able to come home for various reasons. Turkey dinners may be only a wish and not a reality for some.
Yet, Christmas can be a season of great joy for everyone. It is a time of God showing His great love for us. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to be born to Mary. His birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. They knew this was no ordinary baby. The prophets had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special child.
Why did He come? Why did God send His son to this sometimes cruel and hard world? He sent Jesus to us so that one day, He would grow up to become a very important part of history, our history. His story is one of truth, love, and hope for us all.
No matter what may be happening in our lives we can know that we are His children by following Him and becoming children of God. Look at Christmas in a new way this year. This is the year you can invite Jesus into your heart. The joy and peace you will receive will last all year as you look to God for all your needs to be met.
Jesus is the reason for Christmas! Rejoice!
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS NOVEMBER 2021
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that God has given to us. The problem, though, is that sometimes memory fails us. Sometimes we forget.
The Remembrance Sunday Service is one of the most important services in a church calendar because it helps us to not forget why we have the freedom that we enjoy today. The freedom to worship, to travel, to voice our opinions.
Remembrance Day draws people together in a way that’s unique. Both young and old gather together across the country, some with memories of wars in the past, some who are affected by current conflicts. We gather to reflect and remember allowing some aspect of the reality of war to touch us.
Whatever our memories or knowledge of war are, in the silence of Armistice Day we can quietly, in our hearts and minds, reflect on the cost of war, its sacrifice and its shame. Sadly, war and conflict are not confined to the history books. We turn on the TV news and hear of acts of war, violence, and acts of terror particularly recently in Afghanistan.
So why do we bother to pray in church for the troubles of the world? The answer is simple, the answer is love, unlimited, unconditional love. The command to love our neighbour is found in the Book of Leviticus, where we are told to love people who are foreign to our country and love our enemies.
Leviticus 19:33,34 – “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
It’s easy to love somebody who we like, who we share similar interests with, but to love our enemies, well that’s not so easy and is only possible if the love and forgiveness of God is with us. Loving our enemies can push us out of our comfort zone and challenges us but that is how God works. Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God to bless those who hurt them, to do good deeds even to those who cause them harm or upset.
It is hard to understand the evil of war, to understand the violence inflicted on populations, and especially hard to understand the scale of the evils of the Holocaust. The cost of war is huge on all levels and we remember the sacrifice of many in the two world wars and see pain and suffering continue in today’s conflicts.
On Remembrance Sunday, we also remind ourselves of what happens when disagreements cannot be solved. We think of those times when arguments have gone beyond words, when evil had to be confronted. We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow those brave men and women who were taken from us, in world wars and conflicts past and present.
On Remembrance Sunday we also come together as one, to renew our commitment to strive for peace.
Faced with the evil in the world we can sometimes feel powerless, because we can’t do much about what is happening. But we can control our lives, we can control our arguments and disagreements and choose to live in peace.
Through prayer we need to be the people who seek peace and become agents of reconciliation in a divided world. Whilst we’ll always disagree let’s try to do so with respect, let’s work toward building a world in which all people have a valued place, where none are left behind and where all can live in harmony and enjoy a future of justice, peace, mercy and truth.
In our acts of remembrance we need to always remember the power of God. We particularly need to remember the healing power and the forgiveness of God.
As we remember those who died in war, we honour them for their sacrifice. We will remember the past, pray for the present and hope for the future.
We will remember them. Amen
Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS OCTOBER 2021
Giving Thanks at Harvest Time (2)
Eating food is one of the few things common to all human beings. The types of food we eat and how readily available it is to us may vary widely, particularly at the moment with the shortage of HGV drivers to keep our supermarkets stocked. But we all still eat. In our society the meals on our table will have been brought there through the contribution of many different people working in a variety of environments. Our food chain typically involves farmers or fishermen, processors, retailers and those who purchase and prepare the food to eat. It is important to keep these realities in mind as we enjoy the food before us.
A harvest service is an opportunity to offer to God the contribution we make in bringing food to the table; to give thanks and pray for others in the food chain upon whom we are dependent; and above all to praise God who starts off each chain by creating the sun’s radiance and giving life to all living things. It may seem strange that we bring tinned goods to decorate our places of worship and to local foodbanks but these can be a modern way of acknowledging our dependence on God. On the other hand, lumps of coal or sheaves of wheat may evoke memories in older people of harvests of the past, when life was harder and the celebrations more thought provoking, just as the ‘tabernacles’ reminded the Israelites of the harder, more dependent times. All generations need to remember the basic humble elements of sun, soil, water and grain on which we all depend, and the fruits of which we should share with those less fortunate at this time.
Harvest is also a great opportunity to connect in our minds the growing focus in our society on environment, health and food with God. It is an opportunity to think about and talk about the production and consumption of local food; to give thanks for all the wonderful gifts of creation; and to reconnect with our roles as custodians of that creation. It is also an opportunity to pray for and with the farming community, many of whom are struggling to make a living in today’s global economic climate.
May God bring us all an abundant harvest and an awareness of His Grace and the precious gift of this planet which provides for us.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2021 NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS
Harvest Festival - Thankfulness in scarcity & in plenty (1)
In our world of 24-hour supermarkets, with their shelves bursting with huge varieties of foods, including gluten free equivalents, varieties of such things as Manuka honey and chilli-infused olive oil, it can be easy for us all to take food for granted. Harvest Festival is a great opportunity for us to remember and celebrate together the origins of these good gifts – to express our gratitude for the land and people who produce them, and to thank God from whom they all spring.
The Bible tells us:
‘He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known….’
Not everyone is able to go and buy food from supermarkets usually due to some form of crisis in their life. However, foodbanks can provide emergency supplies of food for local people in crisis. They also see first-hand the hidden hunger that exists amid this modern ‘land of plenty’. Every day, they meet people for whom the experience of wilderness (of food poverty and of destitution) and of modern slavery (due to circumstances beyond their control) is both recent (or current) and raw. Yet amidst the frustrations of this work, there are also constant opportunities to recognise and appreciate anew our dependence on God’s provision. Foodbanks are so grateful for the immense generosity of the local community, whose gifts of food or even finance, time and even prayer are a wonderful expression of God’s care for those experiencing hard times.
Going to a foodbank to receive a parcel of (mainly long-life) food can be a strange and humbling experience. Their volunteers work hard to provide a warm welcome, restore dignity and offer choice – but dependence on the kindness of strangers is not quite the same as the choice offered by a supermarket run. For volunteers, similarly, the experience can be unsettling; handing someone a bag of pasta can seem an
inadequate response to the enormity of their circumstances. However, like the provision of manna in the wilderness, it is important to remember that the foodbank is intended to serve as short-term solution to a crisis for people who are hopefully on their way to a more plentiful place.
In our area Taunton Foodbank is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK. They help relieve the pressure created by immediate food poverty by providing an emergency supply of food. In our village the Co-op store has a Food Bank donation container as you enter, next to the Post Office counter. You can also hand in donations to the Church Office at the Village Hall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays between 10.00am and 12.00 noon.
In preparation for our this year’s Harvest Time please give what food you can, including treats for children, either through schools (if this is permitted) or local food collection points. See details below. Taunton Foodbank are particularly asking for long life pasta sauces and fruit juices, long grain rice and tinned tomatoes at the moment.
This harvest time, please pray that we will all grow in our ability to see the people we encounter through God’s eyes. Pray that, alongside our basic gifts of packets and tins, people who visit the foodbank will take away with them a sense of their identity as individuals created in God’s image, known by Him and loved by Him, and full of dignity and worth.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
07761 624216 / 01823 270316
Belvedere Trading Estate, Albemarle Road, Taunton TA1 1BH
Opening timesMonday to Friday 10.00am to 12.00 noon
Saturday and Sunday - Closed
June 2021 Ordinary Time
Right now you are probably thinking “What on earth is Ordinary Time”?
The month of June sees the start of Ordinary Time, an important season in our Church year. We have honoured all the seasons covering all that Jesus experienced from anticipation of his birth in Advent, his birth at Christmas, his childhood, baptism, temptation, ministry, then his death resurrection, ascension at Easter and the sending of His Spirit in Pentecost.
It’s this season after Pentecost that is often called “Ordinary Time” which may sound odd. Why would anything on the Christian calendar be called “ordinary”? Is this just a wasted season?
We do tend to think that if something is “ordinary” it is unnecessary or of lesser value. However Ordinary time reminds us that God is in every aspect of our lives and our time, even the “ordinary” parts. It’s a time to slow down and reflect after the busy times of the previous sixth months.
And just as most of our life is spent doing ordinary things, a huge chunk of church year is ordinary time. In fact, if every day was extraordinary e.g. Christmas and Easter times, then really no days would be extraordinary. We have the exciting and emotional celebrations but we need to balance these and ourselves with ordinary weeks when we can refresh ourselves. This is so important to us whether or not we are practising Christians.
Jesus led a busy life but even he had days just hanging out with the disciples, days in which no teaching or miracles are recorded. Think of the time Jesus spent on the road or just resting, contemplating & praying. It’s a time of focusing on our faith or personal beliefs, a time of growing and nurturing our faith and beliefs.
Whatever your age or circumstances if you are unsure of your beliefs or feel a need to believe in something please do reach out to your church here in the village. Both I and our new Rector Reverend Paul would be happy to listen to and guide you. Contact us on the Church Office number 01823 270211 or Revd Paul by email at [email protected]
With love and blessings
Lay Pastoral Assistant & Churchwarden
PASTORAL CARE - MARCH 2021 NORTON COMMUNITY NEWSMothering Sunday
One of the things I have discovered about our community here in Norton is what a wonderfully diverse group of people we are - in terms of our ages, backgrounds, and family circumstances. However, despite our many differences, there are two things that every single one of us has in common - regardless of who we are, and where we are from.
The first is that each one of us has, or has had, a mother. She may have been a wonderful mother, or a terrible mother; she may have been someone with whom we were (or are) very close; or with whom we have had a very difficult relationship. She may have died many years ago; she may still be very much with us today; or alternatively, perhaps we never even knew who she was. But, nevertheless, we all had one. And whoever she was, and regardless of the circumstances of our birth, she gave each one of us a very precious gift - which is the gift of life.
And the second thing that we all have in common, interestingly enough, is another mother - this time, our mother the Church. And just as with our biological mothers, each one of us will have had a very different kind of relationship with her too through worship, baptism, marriage and death. Some of us may have grown up within the Church and never left; others of us may have discovered the Church more recently; some of us may find her a very comfortable and congenial place to be; others of us may come reluctantly, or simply out of a sense of duty.
But regardless of the precise nature of our relationship with her, our mother the Church offers each one of us another very precious gift - which is this: it doesn't matter who or what we are; it doesn't matter what brings us to Church: it doesn't matter what our relationship with the Church has been in the past, or is in the present - regardless of all of that, she is always here for us, just as the love of God is always here for us. All we need to do is to open our hands, and open our hearts and receive it. It really is that simple. That is why one of the things that I love about the Church of England is that we have a duty of care to everybody in our 'patch' regardless of who they are. In practical terms we have come together during this pandemic over the last year to care for one another. However we also need to remember that if we need pastoral support or ministry the Church is there for us all as well.
So, those are two things that we all have in common. I would like to add a third, which I suspect may be true for most of us, if not all. I would hazard a guess that the majority of us, regardless of our background and circumstances, have at some time or another received from someone or given to someone a form of ‘mothering’, this person not being our biological mother. It may have been a step-mother, or a foster mother, or a childminder; or an aunt or a grandparent; or a wife, or a sister, or a teacher, or it may simply have been a friend. It may have been someone much older than us - or someone who was actually younger than we are. It may even have been a male, rather than a female - which, interestingly enough, has good biblical precedent: after all, it was Jesus himself who, in Luke's Gospel, wept over Jerusalem saying: "How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings" - which is a wonderful, and expressly maternal image.
The point being that the precise relationship is really rather unimportant. The key thing is that, at a time when we really needed it, there was someone who was ready to give us love and support of a motherly kind.
So yes Mothering Sunday is a day when everyone is especially nice to their mums, but it is important to remember as well that Mothering Sunday is actually about considerably more than that.
With love and blessings,
Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - FEBRUARY 2021 NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS
The Meaning of Lent
The meaning of 'Lent' can be interpreted in a number of ways, for some it is linked with the idea of borrowing something, for others it can be taken as something that was placed against a wall, something like a ladder, but that is not the meaning of Lent that I wish to share. The word 'Lent' comes from an old English word meaning to 'lengthen' and is a term used by the Christian community to mark the period between Ash Wednesday, which for this year starts on the 17th February and continues for 40 days ending with Holy Week.
For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere this is also a period when the daylight hours gradually lengthen as we approach the season of summer.
Essentially, for the Christian community the period of Lent is a time for individuals to deepen their relationship with God and to gain a deeper appreciation of all the that God has done for humanity through the Cross of Jesus on Good Friday and to prepare their hearts to celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar.
Whilst it may not have been called 'Lent' - the meaning of Lent actually has its roots as far back as the second century BC when converts to Christianity were encouraged to reflect on their past, to repent those things that they knew in their hearts could never be of God, to put behind them those things that separated them from God in order to be properly prepared for baptism into the Christian faith.
The Greek word they would have used was the word 'Metanoia' and that had the meaning of a complete 180 degree turn in their way of life, in other words putting the past behind them and stepping out into a new way of life with God. In a sense Christians use this time of Lent today in much the same way by reflecting on the past and putting to one side those things that get in the way of deepening their relationship with God. Sacrificing those things that hinder our relationship with God.
During Lent this has sometimes been linked to the sacrifice of Jesus when he went into the desert to pray and fast for the 40 days and nights before setting out on his earthly ministry, a sacrifice which would later lead him to the cross. That in a sense is a helpful way of understanding the meaning of Lent because as we put self behind us and sacrifice those things that gets in the way of God, which of course can be quite challenging, we often find that the rewards are infinitely better.
During this current lockdown we are all having to make personal sacrifices, to give up some of our freedoms such as meeting up with friends and families. So this in itself is a big sacrifice but if we look at it in a positive way, we can all use this time of Lent (and beyond) to reflect on God's love for all and as we reach out to our friends, families, neighbours and to all those who are facing the same level of sacrifice in other ways, we can share God's love in a positive way, for that too is part of the meaning of Lent.
So may God truly bless you and yours as you continue your journeys through this time of Lent and that you discover more clearly the truth of God's love that lies at the heart of the gospel.
Acknowledgment: With grateful thanks to Revd. Mike Parsons who has kindly written this lovely Lent reflection for us all. Mike and his wife Gill live in our village and will be known to many of you.
PASTORAL CARE - DECEMBER/ JANUARY NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS
Christmas is Coming!
If you are anything like me you can’t wait for Christmas and my tree is up and twinkling on the 1 December.
The preparations for the very first Christmas began nine months before the actual day, with the announcement that a young adolescent was pregnant. During these nine months, Mary would have prepared for the birth of her child with anticipation, eagerness, joy, impatience, and fear – the mixture of emotions that many women feel during pregnancy. The same feelings many of us have as Christmas Day draws closer, especially when you are young and the wonder of it all is still so real. Maybe a room or a space was initially prepared for the coming child, just as parents today decorate nurseries, and just as we decorate our homes for the celebration.
As the birth of a child comes closer, people begin to think about what gifts they will give, just as we prepare gifts for others to be given on Christmas Day. It could just be that the early appearance of Christmas in the shops gives us the opportunity to be better prepared, rather than doing a last minute rush. Cards can be chosen and written with care, and maybe a prayer can be said for the person it is being sent to. The same can be done with presents, chosen with love and care for families and friends, just as the wise men in the Christmas story each gave a gift to a child in a manger. And, then there is the opportunity to be generous to those less fortunate through organisations that enable us to give life-giving gifts, such as food, clothing, clean water, and for some, classrooms.
Hopefully this lockdown will be over by early December as planned. If possible this year take time – time to stay safe and well, time to be with family, time to prepare, time to pray and reflect, time to celebrate even if it has to be just within your own household “bubble”. Use the appearance of the tinsel and trees in the shops as a reminder to take time. Advent is the season of expectation and preparation just as we can celebrate ‘Christmas’, the birth of Jesus, on any day by coming together as family, offering love and hospitality, Advent can be any length of time. It is the time each family needs to prepare.
Remember, the first Christmas was nine months in the making.
I pray that God brings you Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Christmas time.
Churchwarden and Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - NOVEMBER 2020
As Autumn unfolds thoughts about and plans for “Remembrance Sunday” are underway.
Yes, Remembrance Sunday is on 8th November and this is the day to remember all those who lost their lives protecting our country and way of life. Due to Covid 19 restrictions we will be unable to hold a service of remembrance in the village hall as usual, however please the Churchwardens and Village Hall Trustees reports in this magazine for further details of what arrangements have been put in place for the day. You can also go and see the pebbles that have been painted with Poppies by children in our village under the Cross in the churchyard.
On Remembrance Sunday regardless of where we are, whether it’s at home or out and about somewhere, we can still join together as one community in a minute’s silence at 11am to remember those who lost their lives so we could live in peace and freedom. As we remember the fallen we also recall this promise to those who died in conflicts over the years:
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
I leave you with this wonderful prayer of hope and how Love will always triumph over Hate and Conflict:
“Affirmation Of Faith”.
We believe God made this world,
God loves this world, God lives in this world.
We believe God holds it and cradles it in loving hands:
holding its pain,
caring for every memory
of every person in conflict.
We believe God loves each human being,
on every side of every struggle,
who has given of themselves,
even to death,
for their friends and family and country.
We believe violence breaks God’s heart;
bullets tear through God’s realm;
and war opposes God’s love.
But we believe love lives stronger than hatred;
hope burns away at despair;
God calls to us from the violence,
and we can work in love for a better world.
So be it. Amen.
(from Seasons of the Spirit)
With love and blessings
Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - OCTOBER 2020
This, the season of mellow fruitfulness, is now upon us. My how this year has flown by and here we are about to celebrate Harvest Festival. However, you may ask what is the significance of a Harvest Festival? Why is it important that my child learns about Harvest Festival?
Harvest Festival is a time where Christians thank God for all the good things He gives them. Harvest Festival also teaches children the value of sharing and giving to those who are not so fortunate.
Harvest Festival is a time to appreciate the good things you have in life and help those that are less fortunate. To get involved with Harvest Festival, you don't have to make a great grand gesture, the small things count too. You could bake for your neighbours, the elderly or someone who might appreciate a home made food gift. The most popular way to get involved with Harvest Festival is to donate food to your local church or school or food collection bins in supermarkets and items like tinned soups, meat and fish, dried pasta, rice and cereals make good contributions as they are easier for foodbanks to store and give away over time.
The symbolic meaning of harvest in the Bible is twofold - God’s provision for us and God’s blessing for others. While we only celebrate a harvest season once a year, we experience the spirit of harvest all the time.
May your personal harvest be bountiful.
With love and blessings
Lay Pastoral Assistant
PASTORAL CARE - SEPTEMBER 2020
A Prayer for the New School Year
It’s fascinating how our lives are marked by the changing of the seasons. Although it has been a good summer it is now time to look ahead and prepare for autumn and winter as many children return to school. We thank God for all the good times during the summer months – for work and play and relaxation, for fun and friendships and frivolity, for trips to the countryside or the beach, for the chance to unwind and enjoy more leisure time. We also thank God for all the good times that lie ahead for those children and youngsters who are about to start school for the first time, those returning to their existing class bubbles and those who are moving from primary to senior school — thanks especially for the exciting classes and new friends to come. Let us pray for all our students at every level of their education, and ask that this will be a good and better year for them. Please God let their learning be rewarding as well as challenging. Give them spirits of joy and confidence, and help them to live gratefully at all times, aware of the gift of life and its incredible richness. Bless their teachers and teaching assistants, and all others who are involved in their education. Lord grant that all of us can share the excitement of the season, whether we are in school or not. For God has made our world extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating despite living with the pandemic, and we are happy to praise Him for everything through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God continue to send us all His blessings.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
Benefice Church Office 01823 270211
PASTORAL CARE ITEM IN NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS - AUGUST ISSUE
At last schools are closed for summer holidays. This must be a relief for all you parents managing to do home schooling and especially so for the hard working teaching staff in our church school who have made it possible for some children to return to school and stay safe. Our teachers deserve a big thank you for all they have done to support the children of our village.
Now is the time to recharge your batteries, to relax, have fun and find some peace in your lives and on this note I leave you with the following blessing:
A Blessing for Summer Holidays
Take time to claim your strength; this is a gift from God.
Take time to have fun; it is God’s way of teaching you your strengths.
Take time to grow yourself; only you can grow you.
Take time to trust yourself; God trusts you.
Take time to be self-reliant; it is better than being dependent.
Take time to share with others; they will bless you and you will bless them.
I pray that God continues to send us all His blessings.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
Benefice Church Office 01823 270211
PASTORAL CARE ITEM IN NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS - JULY ISSUE
One of my jobs at the moment is to work on our All Saints’ Church Risk Assessment to support the reopening of our village church. These are our first steps and we are looking at ways of putting practical arrangements in place which will give people the confidence to step inside our lovely church building again and feel safe.
Those people who have been self-isolating or shielding themselves due to either having the virus or living with someone who has the virus; or those who are pension age or have pre-existing health conditions may have not taken steps outside their home for months and this relaxing of the lockdown rules can feel very scary indeed.
Feeling anxious about venturing out is understandable and we each need to think about how we can do this safely. There’s lots of advice available on who can start going out, on maintaining social distancing and wearing masks and gloves but deep inside we need to feel secure enough to take those first steps outside. We can ask God to help us with make this decision. God will guide us and help us to decide if we should take a risk and go out, He will let us know if it’s right and safe for us.
This village has done a fantastic job in supporting those who were vulnerable during the lockdown. Now that the lockdown is easing please let’s carry on supporting the vulnerable in other ways. For example if we are out for a walk or are in the local Co-op, fish and chip shop or at the pharmacy let’s just look at those who are around us. They may look fine to us but could be feeling very scared and wobbly inside. We can help to give others the confidence to take those first steps and leave home by complying with the advice ourselves and avoid or minimise the risk to other people by maintaining adequate social distance. Give them a smile and help build their confidence and spread their wings. I love the feeling of joy at being outside again after the lockdown – we can encourage and help others feel that joy too.
I pray that God continues to send us all His blessings.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
Benefice Church Office 01823 270211
PASTORAL CARE ITEM IN NORTON COMMUNITY NEWS - JUNE ISSUE
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby In his Easter Service (which he pre-recorded on his iPad from the kitchen of his Lambeth Palace flat) urged us all not to "let fear dominate" and insisted there was “hope” to be found during the coronavirus crisis. He said “We've gone through so much and we're seeing such common spirit and an attitude to the common good coming through by the vast majority of people - we mustn't lose that….. Care for each other; this business of being in touch with people down the street, of beginning to plan post-pandemic parties, of giving yourself hope from looking to the future will make an enormous difference. Do not be afraid, do not let fear dominate. There is hope,”
In our village we see acts of kindness every day as we continue to live our lives during this pandemic. There has been an amazing response as we have come together to support each other in many ways, helping with shopping, collecting medications and with words of inspiration, encouragement and friendship for each other. All these small acts of love and care give us all hope for the future, whatever life throws at us, because we know we have each other to support us.
We all have anxious moments about when all this will end and it’s understandable when we look at the news every day. However there have been a lot of good things to come out of the recent restraints – parents getting to spend more time with their children, neighbours getting to know each other during the Thursday night clapping, the VE day celebration, discovering new talents such as teaching, gardening, baking and crafting. And haven’t we been blessed with such wonderful sunny days! All these little gifts from God help to keep us going during these worrying times. We are a tough, responsive and caring community and this certainly gives me hope, faith and inspiration for the future and I hope it does you.
So let’s look forward to a brighter future when we can spend more time with our loved ones and friends, travel further afield, open our churches and celebrate weddings and baptisms with families and friends. And best of all give each other a long overdue and well deserved hug!
I pray that God continues to send you all his blessings.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
New Chaplaincy Phone Support for those affected by Covid 19
Representatives of the different faith communities in the Avon and Somerset police area have set up a dedicated phoneline offering 1-2-1 chaplaincy.
The Faith Communities Major Emergencies Team for Avon and Somerset team was established 30 years ago to provide faith-based face-to-face pastoral and spiritual support to people of all faiths and none in times of emergency. The service has been adapted to become a direct dial phone line for people affected by the COVID 19 crisis.
This faith-based service is especially for anyone facing end of life issues, bereaved or anxious about someone in hospital, residential care or isolated at home. Their concern could be for a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour, or someone they have been caring for through their work.
The service will also offer a listening ear to:
those who are anxious about relatives who are gravely ill, especially if there is no option of visiting them in person.
people unable to see the body of a loved one after death or unable to attend a funeral
key workers affected by work-related issues, perhaps overwhelmed by what they are facing or dealing with
anyone anxious about the effects of COVID 19 on their lives
The phone line is focused on callers from Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire but no one will be turned away.
To access this service, people can dial: 0330 229 1700 from 8am-11pm 7 days a week from Monday 27 April.
This service is open to everyone – of all faiths and none. The more than 70 volunteers manning the phone lines are clergy and people in roles in pastoral support, including many working in chaplaincy. All calls will be confidential. Though the service will not be able to offer long-term bereavement care or counselling, it will signpost people in need to organisations which can offer this specialist help.
Please follow the link below for further details on the Diocese website
Most of us will feel lonely at some times in our lives. However being alone doesn’t always mean you’ll feel lonely – people often choose to spend time on their own and actually enjoy their own company. Others may still feel lonely even when they are surrounded by people.
Loneliness is the feeling of sadness that can come from not having the social contact that you would like and it can affect anyone. For example young mums may feel lonely and isolated if they don’t have family support or friends near them; your grown up children may have flown the nest; your partner may have died; and also having a long term health condition can also make it hard for you to get out and socialise.
Loneliness is a personal thing, it feels different for all of us and there is no single solution. We each have to find different ways to overcome the feeling of loneliness.
One of the easiest ways to help with loneliness is to look for opportunities to establish new contacts. If you don’t have an existing group of family or friends that you’re close to, then think about other people you come across in your day to day life. In the days before the Coronavirus outbreak we could say hello to a neighbour if we saw them outside or chat to the person who served us in a shop. Relationships don’t have to be close to be meaningful to you. However as more people have to start to self-isolate it is even more difficult to sustain personal contacts. However all is not lost – we can phone people, if you have the technology you can hold a face to face conversation over WhatsApp or Skype. Wave to people as they go past your house and similarly if you are passing by a neighbour’s house whilst exercising just wave – just giving someone a smile or a hello can with time open a door to conversation and friendship.
Also, never underestimate the power of prayers. If you are lonely then ask God to guide you to new friendships and bring people into your life who will bring you companionship and joy. God will listen and God is kind.
If you know someone who is lonely or If you yourself are feeling lonely and would like to talk further about this then please phone the Church Office on 01823 270211 and leave a message, or email [email protected]
Benefice Lay Pastoral Assistant
What is Baptism all about?
When we have a new baby our instinct is to do all that we can to provide them with nourishment, warmth, love and to make them feel happy and secure. Often, even if we had no interest in spiritual matters before having a family, the sheer wonder of creating and bringing a new life into the world makes us think about the meaning of life at a deeper level and we may wish to give our child the opportunity to benefit from being part of the family of God.
Baptism is about celebration, thanksgiving and welcome. It’s an occasion to celebrate the life of your child and to thank God for them and for His love and commitment to them. It’s also a time for your child to be welcomed into the family of the church both within our community and worldwide.
The role of godparents is very important in baptism. They are usually special friends or family members who are happy to be part of your child’s life as they grow up. Along with you they will be good role models for your child in how to live a good life and will be ready to help in encouraging your child’s faith and understanding of the love of God. During the baptism service the godparents will make promises to confirm this so it is important that the godparents themselves have been baptised. There is no expectation for you as parents to have been baptised however we can arrange for you and the godparents to be baptised as well, should you wish, either during the same or in a separate service.
You can also have a Thanksgiving Service as an alternative to Baptism. It’s a special service that is used to say thank you to God for your child and to pray for God’s blessing. It’s a service that recognises that some parents may not wish to have their child baptised immediately. Although your child will not be baptised during the service you can choose supporting friends and family to be sponsors, rather than godparents, who will support you in bringing up your child and they take part in the service.
Taking the next steps
If you would like to arrange for you, your child or children to be baptised or to arrange a Thanksgiving Service and would like to chat about it further then please contact me at the new Church Office & Pastoral Hub at the Reading room in the Village Hall. I’m usually there Tuesdays, Wednesdays and most Friday’s from 10am to 2pm. Otherwise you can phone me on 01823 270211 or email me at [email protected] However there can be no Baptisms during this Coronavirus outbreak as our Churches are now closed to prevent spread of infection.
Meanwhile here is a short prayer for you to share as a family at bedtime:
God, we thank you for the night,
And for the pleasant morning light;
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the day so fair.
Help us to do the things we should,
To be to others kind and good;
In all we do, in work or play,
To grow more loving every day.
The Church Office & Pastoral Hub is now Open!
Don’t forget the Church Office & Pastoral Hub is open to all so if you just want to pop in to have a look around and say hello, have a chat or pick up some useful guides you are most welcome.
Lay Pastoral Assistant
What is pastoral care?
One definition of Pastoral care is:
“Pastoral care consists of helping acts, done by representative persons, directed towards the healing, sustaining, guiding, reconciling and nurturing of persons whose troubles and concerns arise in the context of daily interactions and ultimate means and concerns”
The above seems very wordy but in practice it means showing God’s love in supporting those who are troubled and concerned within their day to day lives. For example the elderly who are struggling with loneliness and frailty; young people who may be struggling growing up in our society with all the pressures of body image and media pressure; young families who may be struggling financially and those coping with young children, especially if you are doing this alone; those who are sick and are in pain or are frightened; those who are bereaved and are grieving for lost loved ones and also those who have reached the end of their lives. So from birth through to death pastoral care is there for you.
In practical terms pastoral workers offer friendship, a listening ear, prayer, and advice if you want it, signposting to people and organisations who can help you in a practical way. When giving pastoral care we do not discriminate on grounds of race or religion. It is open to all.
Within our benefice we have a number of people who support others in the community. We have one commissioned Lay Pastoral Assistant (LPA) at the moment, and that is me here in Norton Fitzwarren.
Who am I?
My name is Pam Wreford and I’m a northern girl, born and brought up on Merseyside and I’ve lived in the West Country for the last 27 years and I’m happily married to my husband Chris. I have always held a belief in God but I didn’t become a practising Christian until I retired from work in 2015. I guess working long hours during the week and fitting home life into the weekends got in the way, which is the reality these days as more families need both parent to work. I was Confirmed in 2016 and then was commissioned as a Lay Pastoral Assistant in 2017 having done a 3 month course of study.
How can you contact me?
In the new Church office/Pastoral Hub which is opening in the Reading Room at our Village Hall at the end of January. There are no set hours at the moment for the office as it will be run by volunteers during the vacancy following the retirement of our Rector Stephen Kivett and his wife Ann. However as the Pastoral Hub develops we aim eventually to have someone there Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri 10am to 2pm (Skittles hours). To be able to do this we do need more volunteers so if you have previous pastoral care experience or you are interested in finding out more about this then please get in touch – we would love to hear from you.
Telephone: 01823 270211
Facebook – we do have a basic All Saints Church Facebook page set up and will develop this further with time, however I am a member of the Norton Community FB group and check the page regularly.
Well I think that’s all for now but I’ll leave you with the following:
“Never a trial
When God is not there
Never a burden that
God does not bear
Never a sorrow that
God does not share
Moment by moment
We’re under God’s care”
Daniel W Whittle
Lay Pastoral Assistant