Context and Cost

| Simon Bale | Vicar's Blog

The pandemic converted me to ApplePay and all other forms of contactless electronic payments. Before March 2020 I was gradually learning to use my phone to pay for things, but it was a slow process and I often fretted about whether the process would work in Lidl, or whether I’d look a complete muppet. Then, lockdown came and everyone was doing it. I was liberated. Now I almost never carry cash (the closest I come to identifying with The Queen, that’s for sure) except when I’m planning on hanging around in Stoke St Gregory in the cafe. It’s my “bad smell ministry”. I just hang around. Hey, it makes me laugh if nobody else. The cafe is wonderful, but it doesn’t take contactless phone payments for transactions under £5, and the coffee is £1.80. So, I carry the coins or I have to buy a loaf of bread and some chocolate, or just more chocolate… you see my problem?

I am fortunate, however. I can, without pausing for any thought, buy the food I need. No problems. I have enough funds in the bank, and I know I will not starve. I can go to the post office in North Curry and withdraw the cash I need for my coffee and I can even buy coffee for others. I am blessed. I can confidently buy all I need and much of what I want, without any worries, to the extent that I can easily describe myself as “affluent”.

It’s all a bit of a relative thing, however, and as we appear to be entering a time of economic turbulence, I’m remembering some research I undertook for my Theology MA degree a few years back. I investigated the way the fear of becoming poor varied across economic contexts. I looked at how three neighbourhoods. One a very affluent collection of rural villages, where charity luncheons raised thousands of pounds over a few bottle of Bollinger, one a market town that was “down at heel”, where jobs were scarce and the past was rather rosetinted, and a suburban, post-war council estate where life was “hand to mouth” and jobs were scarce.

In the villages of Much-Bollinger, the fear of poverty was manifest as losing the multimillion stable conversion and having to live in a suburban semi-detached house. In Down-at-heel-ville the fear was of renting and never having a way back to a mortgage. In the Lower-Need the fear was not so much of losing anything but of a weary resignation to “business as usual” and continuing to make ends meet. Continuing hard work. The context of the world around us forms in us a perceived need. I call it contextual poverty.

We’re being told that the cost of living is getting higher and higher, and I wonder what we understand by that. It all depends on what you expect from life and what you fear losing: context shapes us. In a land of affluence, losing the things that others might never even dream of having is still a real fear and a worry. When you’ve already got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose, perhaps. And then in between… is that the worst of all? To lose all hope and also to fear being at rock bottom.

The issue with “the cost of living” is of course a very material matter. To live we need food, water, shelter, health and warmth. But those are the very basics, and very few people in our society truly have nothing. That is a relief. But it isn’t if you ARE one of those people. There is no such thing, truly, as absolutely poverty. It is all about the context. But, as we do seem to be picking up speed down the hill to financial and therefore material need we need to look out for those ahead of us who already have (relatively) nothing. They’ll reach the bottom before us. It may not seem there’s much we can do to avoid that. But I hope that in relative affluence those of us with a soul can show compassion, for those in more extreme need and worry less about ourselves. I pray that we can always find cash to buy people a coffee and a cake, always remember our own blessedness and always remember the words of Jesus.

In the context of the kingdom of God, blessed are the poor. Theirs is the kingdom.

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.

Lyngfest! Saturday July 30th, 7pm

Join us in the Village Hall garden for an evening of live music accompanied by Cheese and Cider tasting. Ticket £10 available in advance only. Kids go free. A Pop up Pub will also be available with a good selection of drinks on offer for a suggested donation.

Evening of Romantic Song and Popular Favourites, Sat 20th Aug

Saturday August 20th at 7.30pm in North Curry Church: Gregory Steward, tenor, presents an Evening of Romantic Song and Popular Favourites. Tickets £10 to include a glass of wine/juice: available from North Curry Post Office or from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on the door. Under-18s free.

Lyng Harvest Supper, 3rd September at 6pm

Come and celebrate the season with friends and food. Delicious fare for us to share. Ticket £5 available in advance only to include supper and a glass of wine, beer or a soft drink. We will be collecting donations for the local food-bank.

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

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.

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


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.


Choir practice
19 Aug 2022
04:00PM - 05:00PM

Lyng Coffee Morning
20 Aug 2022
10:30AM - 12:00PM

Wedding: Michelle and Matthew
20 Aug 2022
12:00PM - 05:00PM

Lyng a summer Fete
20 Aug 2022
02:00PM - 03:00PM

An Evening of romantic song and popular favourites with Gregory Steward (North Curry Church)
20 Aug 2022
07:00PM - 10:00PM

Eucharist: BCP (North Curry)
21 Aug 2022
08:00AM - 09:00AM