Life Magazine - June 2020
Welcome to the June addition of Life magazine.
Thank you to those who responded to my call last month to keep articles coming in, if you have no particular article you would liketo share, just write a paragraph or two on what you have been doing during Lockdown. Although the Zoom coffee mornings may enable us to chat you may feel awkward or ‘cant get a word in edgeways’, so please share what you have been getting up to,on your daily walks, trips to the supermarket, or when you’ve been enjoying the sunshine in your garden or balcony. We would love to hear your stories, (I will keep them anonymous if you so wish.)
For the Website the Lockdown magazine pages are kept simple (no clip art or photos) and of course no cover, but when we are able to access open churches again, there will be paper copiesavailable. I won’t give too much away but April’s cover has anEaster theme, May’s waves the flag for the N.H.S. with a slight VE anniversary tang on the back cover and June’s has an old
photo of me at a place where in June there would normally be a massive early morning gathering! There will be a photo gallery of our nature walks at some point, but meanwhile you can read about them on Pam’s ‘Lockdown Nature Walks’ page.
We will get through this, we are all finding it hard at times, stick with it and keep praying. God Bless you all. Roger
The Bishop’s Message
Recognise the one who stands beside you ‘Stay alert’ is the message as we ‘ease out of lockdown’. We know that for some there is little ease as we begin to re-engage with a world that is still fearful of Covid-19 and uncertain about its future. The requirement to ‘stay alert’ is to encourage us to watch out for signs of the virus and protect ourselves and others as necessary.
We’ve just celebrated Pentecost, often recognised as the birthday of the Church. Jesus’ message to his followers as he left them to return to his Father was that they were to ‘stay alert’, not to guard against something fearful to come but rather to be watchful for the Spirit that would free them from fear. It didn’t mean that there weren’t still physical dangers to face but rather that their spiritual lives should grow in boldness. We have seen much courage exhibited throughout this crisis to date. Key workers who have continued to serve us day by day even whilst most of us have remained at home. The NHS has quite rightly been applauded and appreciated at this time and there are so many more.
I’ve been especially impressed by our schools and their teams who have largely been open throughout this period to be provide care for key worker families and vulnerable children. Even at weekends and during this past half term holiday they have been tirelessly supporting their local communities. Staying alert to the needs of our young, they have shown their commitment and care. I want to express my huge gratitude to them!
As we move into June we may be seeing more children returning to schools having been home-schooled for a time. This will not be without fear for some and a need to be especially alert to physical dangers. Whatever the situation we find ourselves to be in at this point, we are reminded that we have a Comforter, an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who strengthens and encourages ourfaith even at times of doubt and anxiety. Whether still at home and isolated or beginning a return to wider community life, may you find yourself being alert for and recognising the one who stands alongside you, the Spirit, who is friend, guardian and
comforter. With every good wish. Bishop Ruth
The Parable of the lost Sheep.
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will be not leave the ninety nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Matthew 18. V 10-14. NIV.
It is very strange how we adapt to a different lifestyle in these difficult times. We are very blessed to live where we do with some beautiful walks on our doorstep and of course the weather has helped us keep positive and upbeat. Here in Mendip we also have one of the lowest cases of Covid 19 and that may lull us into a false state of comfort. As I write this, we are in the middle of Thy Kingdom Come initiative, where we have been asked to prayer for 5 people to come to know the Lord in a personal, life saving way. This is why I picked the reading for this month to remind us how God is so delighted when one of his children turn back to him. We can all pray in the safety of our own homes even at a time when our Church doors have to remain locked and just imagine how many more people would turn to the Lord all over the world if everyone's five people made such a commitment.
Nothing is impossible for God.
Even during this time of closed Churches, I know that our congregations are praying for each other and ringing each other to give a friendly, positive word of care and encouragement. We may not have a rector at the moment but Jesus gave us all a call to proclaim his word and to love and care for each other. This isn't just a job for the clergy or churchwardens; it's for all of us to love each other. It sometimes takes a crisis or pandemic for people's goodness to shine and we thank God for each one of you who shines for Jesus in the midst of difficulty.
I would like to day a big thank you to those who have enabled some of us to still join in services. To Diana, David, Suzie and Elizabeth especially, although I am sure there are many more who quietly work away with the technical side of things. It is such a pity many can't access computers or work zoom etc but I do know that a lot of you are enjoying services on the TV or listening to Premiere Radio and that is so wonderful. My prayer would be that more people will be searching for God through these difficulties and that they recognize Him reaching and searching
for them. Also thanks to Diana for her prayer dog walks which are wonderful every day, Suzie’s zoom coffee mornings which enable us to chat and laugh together, for Jane's lovely photos taken on her daily walks and to Roger, Bernard and Sonia who still put together Life and Lifeline for us. For each one of you who do things in every small or large way to encourage us all, God bless you and thank you.
Our Lockdown Nature Walks.
Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good
When the lockdown started we decided that we would go for a walk every day. We started off with good intentions. Anyway, the first time we walked along the footpaths through the woods we noticed the birdsong and tried to work out what the birds were.
Another thing we noticed was that the bluebells were just showing a hint of blue. When we walked a similar route the following week the woods were carpeted in blue and white. The white flowers were wood anemones. The scene was really beautiful, interspersed with the yellows of primroses and celandines. When we walked out of the woods the cowslips were making an appearance amongst the grass. As well as the birds and flowers the butterflies were plentiful. We spotted several different ones, including yellow brimstone, orange tipped, holly blue, peacock and several small brown ones. As the weeks have passed the wood anemones have flowered and gone as have the bluebells. Just a few remnants of primroses remain. The cowslips became more plentiful, but have gradually faded. The small flowers have been taken over by cow parsley, stinging nettles and brambles, so some paths are a bit difficult to navigate now. We are lucky to have so many public footpaths in the area. It was good that Diana Greenfield shared
some of her walks with us on a recent Sunday Zoom Service, Zooming the local countryside into our homes.
Last week we walked past Ivythorn Farm. We were surprised to see a red kite flying around the area. It was lovely to see the sun shining on the bird as it swooped and swirled along. It seems that a red kite has been spotted in Street, Walton and Compton Dundon recently. This was the topic of a conversation at Suzie’s recent Coffee Morning Zoom Meeting. Pam Harmsworth
How does Eco Church connect with where we are now?
I have been reflecting on how the current situation has changed perceptions of the natural world. Comments have been made about being more aware of birdsong and how loud it appears to be where the noise from traffic has diminished. Some of those who are fortunate to have gardens have been spending more time in them. More people than usual seem to be exploring the local countryside on foot, some venturing just beyond the houses, others going further afield. Some have been posting pictures of trees, flowers and wildlife on Facebook and Diana has been posting her daily walk with prayers. All this may help us to
appreciate how important the natural world is to our sense of wellbeing and our connection to God and the Eternal. From a human and planet health perspective, following global restrictions on movement, cleaner air from reduced CO 2 and other noxious gases are good news. Whilst showing what could be possible they are but a small step. This could be wiped out in the rush for economic recovery once the immediate crisis is over; this is not inevitable, governments could ensure that economic development supports industry and change aimed at addressing climate change. The Church of England's commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 represents part of such a movement. Our current situation reflects a paragraph from a 1991 General Synod report. We all share and depend on the same world … Christians believe that this world belongs to God … and that he has entrusted it to humankind .... We can find comfort in nature but must not forget our Christian responsibility for safeguarding it. Jennifer Jobbins, Wild Christian Programme Coordinator and Communications Officer for A Rocha UK (one of the charities we support) has been listening to Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi’s ‘Take Heart’ series, she saw the latest upload ‘The secret to happiness, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.’ In this, Andy Croft reminds us that God asks us to give thanks in all circumstances (note – not for all circumstances) and to enjoy the little things. Quoting theologian G K Chesterton he says: ‘We sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.’ Jennifer had this image of us humans confined to our little boxes (homes) whilst all around creation rejoices and sings, laughs and chatters God’s praises. She goes on to say that she will be taking part in The Wildlife Trusts’ ‘30 Days Wild’ challenge in June, trusting that God will turn these ‘Wild’ days into days to enjoy his creation and become a bit more joyful through the process. The challenge’s aim is to bring people closer to nature where they live, taking small actions that can collectively have a big impact: every Random Act of Wildness counts. You can find out more on the Wildlife Trusts' website https://www.wildlifetrusts.org
This poem reflects this theme of connection with and through the natural world; the poet writes from a Christian perspective and offers a sense of hope for us in these different times.
“The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Sue Ripley
WATCH - GOD or the NHS?
The NHS has done an amazing job in the face of the ongoing crisis. Key workers are putting their own lives on the line - and in some cases, sacrificing them - in order to save the lives of victims of the virus who include the Prime Minister, as he is the first to acknowledge. We are all very grateful, as can be seen on Thursday nights at 8 o'clock! And we also remember our Post Office workers, recycling workers, supermarket checkout operators, delivery drivers, bus drivers and many others, seen and unseen, who are keeping the essential wheels of our communities turning.
But, is that where our thankfulness ends? Do we as the church have anything more to say to our neighbors as we are all brought up short by something which totally unforeseen has stopped our world in its tracks and economically to its knees, and most of all has exposed our humanity, our fragility, our mortality, and caused deep angst - fear - as we realise how we have take virtually everything for granted for decades.
Can we learn anything from history? Henry Ford is reputed to have said that those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. 100 years ago, starting around 1918, as the First World War was drawing to a close, the world was hit by another pandemic, Spanish Flu, which killed more people than the First World War. No less than 500 million people - about a third of the then world population - were infected: including incidentally our then Prime Minister, Lloyd George, and the death toll was somewhere between 17 and 100 million. These figures are quite mind-blowing to me as I read them now. I guess we all thought that with modern science and medicine pandemics were just forgotten history, a thing of the past. Little did we know. The fact is, as far as I can see, that we were at all levels, unprepared. We didn't even seem to know the science of face masks, let alone have any. We had forgotten history, and condemned ourselves to repeat it - though, thankfully, without the catastrophic consequences of 100 years ago. Those nations which took the early decisive action such as Slovenia in Europe, South Korea and New Zealand, have suffered the least.
I know little about the Spanish Flu pandemic, except for the story of the nuns of Philadelphia. When the disease hit that area of the USA in autumn 1918, there was a desperate shortage of medical staff due to WW1 and so the catholic Archbishop called on the nuns to help. Their sacrificial service in response was unstinting. There were 2,000 of them, and a number lost their lives. Echoes of NHS front-line staff today.
Here in Street these days I see for myself the Salvation Army hosting a food bank, organising the distribution of cream teas on VE Day to the elderly and the vulnerable, and making pizzas on their forecourt one afternoon each week (I haven't found out yet who these are for!).
Boris Johnson was treated in St Thomas's Hospital which was founded in 1106 on the site of a previous infirmary. It was an Augustinian order providing shelter for the poor, sick and homeless. In the 15th century a ward was added for unmarried mothers to give birth. In the NHS we can see service which was initiated by the church in times past has now taken over by re state in the name of society.
But is that all? Is the church finished, its role redundant, fit only for the scrapheap, a relic form the past? Some undoubtedly think this, or did. The pandemic has provided a traumatic jolt to society's complacency and a new search for meaning. Why is this happening? What should we be doing? We don't want to die - is death really the end? Huge numbers have googled the word Prayer. Something like 1 in 4 people have joined an online service on the internet, compared to the normal average of 1 in 20. Our message is no less than that death is busted: it is no longer to be feared, even in this pandemic. Why? Because Jesus has overcome it; He has suffered the punishment for our sin so that we may go free and receive the free gift of eternal life with God our Father in heaven when we die. If we put our faith and trust in Jesus, then death will be for us but the gateway to a new and wonderful life in heaven, more wonderful than anything we could possibly even imagine. If you don't believe me, just read the New Testament, the second part of the Bible, for yourself starting with the good news of John's Gospel. You'll never regret it: it'll be the best thing you ever did! BS
MISSIONS & CHARITIES COMMITTEE looking for new members
The Street M&C Committee needs at least one more member ~ could this be YOU ? It is not an onerous task; we meet a couple of times a year, primarily to discuss, decide and make recommendations to the PCC re the church tithe recipients. Before lockdown we also used to pray once a month and will hopefully be getting back to that soon! If you have a heart for missions, community outreach and sharing
Jesus, you are the right person for the job! Please speak to Suzie Williams or Jane Tompsett if you are interested to find out more.
Betty Hickman 5/5/1924 to 15/4/2020.
I would just like to extend my enormous gratitude to so many of you in Street Church and the wider community, for all the support, cards and prayers we have received since my mother’s illness and subsequent death. We have felt very blessed. It was all thanks to you that she was able to maintain a good quality of life, enabling her to keep her independence at home, until almost her 96th Birthday.
She had settled well into Beech House Nursing Home in Thornbury for eight weeks before she contracted the dreaded COVID 19 disease. Please all remain safe and well. We will be holding a Thanksgiving service in Street church for my mother sometime in the future when we can all celebrate her life. Again, with many thanks. Hilary Craig and family.
Worship that pleases God
‘LET US … WORSHIP GOD IN A WAY THAT WILL PLEASE
Hebrews 12:28 TEV
In John, Chapter 4, a Samaritan woman with a chequered past tried to debate Jesus as to the best time, place and style for worship. But Jesus told her these issues were irrelevant. Where you worship God isn't as important as why or how much of yourself you offer to Him in the process. Listen: … they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Worship is your spirit responding to God's Spirit. It's not a matter of saying the right words you must mean what you say.
Heartless praise isn't praise at all. You may worship imperfectly, but you must never worship insincerely.
The best style of worship for you is the one that authentically represents your love for God based on your background and personality. If God intentionally made us all different, why would we all be expected to express our love for Him in the same way? There's no one-size-fits-all. You don't glorify God by trying to be something He doesn't need one more of. God wants you to be yourself! Listen: That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship (John 4:23 TM).
If your worship is mindless, it's meaningless. Jesus called thoughtless worship & vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Even biblical terms can become tired clichés from overuse. If someone approached you and repeated, I praise you 50 times, you'd probably think for what? You'd rather receive two specific compliments than 20 vague generalities. So would God.
From the daily readings in ‘The Word for Today’. This booklet of devotional readings is published every three months and is available free of charge through the generosity of supporters, from: UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 4JF. Tel: 0845 60 40 401. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UCB is short for United Christian Broadcasters, who also produce Christian radio and TV programmes available on DAB digital radio, TV and online. Details at ucbmedia.co.uk