Where were you?

| Simon Bale | Vicar's Blog

You will know where I am going with this already, I suspect. On Thursday evening at 6.30pm I was standing on the altar step in North Curry church joking with Kelly and Jake about how they really need to look at each other when saying their wedding vows because it’s each other they’re marrying, not me. “Don’t look at the vicar!” We were having a lovely, joyful and hopeful time, sharing in the idea that God is with us in times of such joyfulness and that “solemnity” is a moment of being with God. It can be thought of only as a bit serious and dull, but being solemn is when we notice God. God was with us.

Then, BOOM! “Buckingham Palace has just announced the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

Our sails emptied of wind. We stood there dumbfounded (can I use that word here: is that what it’s for?). All but one of us in the church had never existed as subjects of a different monarch, and even that one had no really firm recollection of George VI other than his death

We are on the pivot of history, but me telling you so, again, after all we have heard via the ubiquitous media coverage since Thursday is hardly going to be a revelation. I am not trying to be insightful or unique in observing that the world has changed since Thursday evening. Indeed, of course it has: the world is always changing. But the experience of being amongst the joyfulness and then to be deflated as we were reminds us of how we are all linked to the passage of history. Queen Elizabeth’s death on Thursday was not a shock—all day the news had been worrying—and yet when it was announced the feeling was so strong because it made such a difference to each of our worlds.

The Holy Scriptures, from Genesis forward, are full of stories of rulers living and dying, of their exploits, good and bad, and, most importantly, of the ways in which their behaviour has affected those around them. Pharaoh would not let God’s people go. Moses (a leader if not a ruler) changed his mind and “the people” wandered into the desert. Saul was appointed King over the Israelites because they asked God to let it happen. He wasn’t a particularly successful monarch, but his successor, David, ha remained high up on the list of “Good Kings”. Solomon too. Then came all manner of monarchs, good and bad, all down through history to our very own English and British kings and queens. Judge them “good or bad” all you like, but the one overarching criterion will involve how they treated the people who venerated them: the people. How did their reigns feel for those people over whom, often, they had power of life or death?

The feelings Jake, Kelly, myself and others felt on Thursday evening, as we regathered ourselves into a ball of joyful excitement for the wedding today (10th September), was one of suddenly realisation that someone who had been so important to our very identity was suddenly no longer there. Gone from our world view, and leaving a huge gap in the collective story of who we are as her subjects. It will take time fully to appreciate this. But, as I often mention at funerals and burials, the sorrow and confusion we feel is a mark of how important someone has been to us. It is normal.

As I sit here writing this I can hear the fun being had in the cricket ground up the road where Jake and Kelly are holding their wedding reception. They are having a great time by the sound of it. I am pleased that Her Majesty’s death has not put paid to their enjoyment of their new life together. She would agree with me, I am confident, that the changes in this world that come each day are only to be judged on one thing: where is God in it all. God is love. It sounds to me that “love is all around”, at least in the cricket ground. I am convinced Her Majesty approves.


Covid Update

Given the significant rise in cases locally (not just among the clergy!), I think it is important that we reconsider the way we distribute communion. For the present time, until things settle down again, we will be reverting to the previous system of “priestly intinction” whereby the president offers an “intincted” wafer to communicants. Please do not feel obliged to receive the wine in this way. It is perfectly acceptable to receive only the bread: please let the president know.

Lyng Quiz Night: 1st Oct at 7pm

Get your thinking caps on for a fun flled quiz evening kindly hosted by Chris Barrington. Prize for the winning team. Followed by raffle. £10 per team of 4. In advance.

A Pop up Pub will also be available with a good selection of drinks on offer for a suggested donation.

Magazine

A prayer for Ukraine

Father of all,

We hold before you today the country of Ukraine and its people. We have no words to express the sadness we feel for them. We pray that your Holy Spirit will act to bring peace; that violence and brutality will have no place in its lands; that you will hold your people safe

Lord have Mercy

We pray that the people of your world will work together

To protect the poor and the afraid To heal the sick and the dying To free those oppressed and in prison We hold them all before you

Christ have Mercy

We hold before you those we know who are caught up in the situation. We pray for our armed forces. We pray for all those who stand for good in the face of evil. We pray for those hurting and grieving for their country. We hold them all in your love

And above all we pray for hope.

Lord have Mercy

Amen

Athelney Prayer

Almighty God, who made all things and sustains all things, we come together remembering the past and full of hope for the future.

We thank you for the part you call us to play in our Benefice's continuing story.

Lord, bind us more closely together and unite us in the work of your kingdom in our communities. Help us to draw on the gifts and talents in our midst and to use them in your service.

May we be a welcoming and loving community, united in worshipping you and open to your guiding Spirit.

Holy Spirit guide us and fill us with vision and energy; make us faithful in prayer and worship, that we may discover your way for the future and see your kingdom grow.

We ask these things in the name of your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen

Trinity 13: September 11th 2022, Sunday following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II
The Collect

Merciful Father and Lord of all life, we praise you that we are made in your image and reflect your truth and light. We thank you for the life of our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, for the love she received from you and showed among us. Above all, we rejoice at your gracious promise to all your servants, living and departed, that we shall rise again at the coming of Christ. And we ask that in due time we may share with your servant Elizabeth that clearer vision promised to us in the same Christ our Lord; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Lamentations 3.22-26, 31-33

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord will not reject for ever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Corinthians 2:4.16-5.4

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

John 6.35-40

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’

Post-Communion

Father in Heaven, whose Church on earth is a sign of your heavenly peace, an image of the new and eternal Jerusalem: grant to us in the days of our pilgrimage that, fed with the living bread of heaven and united in the body of your Son, we may be the temple of your presence, the place of your glory on earth, and a sign of your peace in the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.