Vicar's Blog

Boxing Day

| Simon Bale | Vicar's Blog

I wasn't here last month. Or rather, I was but I didn't write anything because I was surrounded by boxes. Louise and I are now nicely unboxing and finding places to put things but, goodness, we have rather more things than we either need or realised. For a few years before we arrived in the vicarage we had kept much of our "stuff" in store. Now we have all that back it is interesting just how much (or how little) we missed that stuff. There's crockery, photographs, documents, books, furniture, children's toys and a lot of miscellaneous items all of which must be looked at with a critical eye. Perhaps we can get rid of some of it, but which and how? Our books are non-negotiable. To me books are the spine of our lives. I remember where I was when I first read a Julian Barnes novel or something more austere like Dostoyevsky. I could no more jettison Winnie the Pooh or The Tale of Tom Kitten than I could be rid of my guitars. My theology and science texts are part of who I am. But perhaps it's time to pass on the Action Man F1 car (nooooo... that was George's) or the porcelain pieces we began collecting as newly weds (surely not! that has romantic associations). And what about the drawing Isaac did in Reception class, just for me!? It's difficult to get rid of things you've had for a long time. It is emotionally draining but is must be done.

I know there are many who might wonder what my problem is. Some people develop very few emotional attachments to things: they might describe themselves as reasonable but I would say they have no soul, but secretly I wish I could be like them... I think. It is all about the value you put on items. Even though I love my books, I have acquired e-versions of many of them (particularly those which hold most memories for me) so the physical forms are arguably unnecessary. Also, some of our crockery we haven't used for five years or more. Why do we keep it?

Perhaps there is deeper issue here. Why do we gather things in the first place? Why do we think we need things when actually we already have enough to be going on with? All I "need" is a plate, a spoon and a cup but over the years I have acquired whole dinner sets, and that is a problem for us all. Who we are is often expressed through what we have, but I worry we have become too expressive. As the world begins to heat up faster and faster, and as our need to have things continues to grow, we are converting more of what there is into stuff we could get by without. As a consequence it has been estimated that we (the developed countries of the world) are using far too much, perhaps three to four times more than we can sustain.

You've heard it all before, I am sure. People (hypocrites) like me, agonising over the way we destroy, but sitting at my desk and writing this on a computer that is only functioning because of the rare metals it contains, using electricity that produces carbon dioxide. I drive a car. I use too much gas to heat my home. I mow my lawn with a petrol mower (when it works!). I use plastic containers when paper would do. I use my wealth to buy things I don't need.

We know the game is up: we must change how we live, but who is going to make sure we all change? If I change but nobody else does, what s the point?

I know, I know: this isn't easy to think about, and if you're like me it is a bit more than scary. I have my own point of view and I hope others share it. What we have already done cannot be changed. We cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube. But we can think and act differently from here on. During September we are going to give this a lot more thought across the Athelney Benefice. As the world gathers in Glasgow in November for COP26, a global conference about climate change, it will be helpful to do our own thinking and talking as Christians: how can we be part of dealing with the climate emergency, and how can we recognise our role in working with all people to make a difference? I would say that this is the most important time in human history since the resurrection of Christ. I do hope it is equally uplifting.

The first session will be at 7pm on Thursday 2nd September. Please do let me know if you would like to be involved. Watch this space and ask yourself this: if I had to reduce all my possessions to a single car load, what would I include? If you need a box to put it all in, I have some going spare.

Upcoming Events

17 Oct 2021;
08:00AM - 09:00AM
Eucharist (BCP): NC (SB)
17 Oct 2021;
09:30AM - 10:30AM
Holy Communion: BB (SB)
17 Oct 2021;
11:00AM - 12:00PM
Eucharist (sung): SSG (MM)
17 Oct 2021;
06:00PM - 07:00PM
Evensong: NC (RR)
20 Oct 2021;
05:00PM - 06:00PM
Evening Prayer: SSG
All Souls and All Saints

Some advance notice: All Saints (1st November) and All Souls (2nd November) will both be marked on 31st October this year. As each is a distinct feast day, we shall be holding two distinct services, and both be Benefice services: All Saints at 10am in North Curry and All Souls at 5pm in Burrowbridge.

Liturgically and theologically All Saints is a moment to celebrate the saints in heaven, known and unknown, and is a more general acknowledgement of the lives of those who have gone before as disciples of Christ across the millennia. All Souls is a much more intimate moment in the calendar, when we remember those known to us who have died recently. The last time we gathered for All Souls was 2019, before covid and before funerals were required to be so curtailed. During the pandemic so many of us lost loved ones and were unable to mark their passing in the desired way. All Souls will be a time to acknowledge this, to give thanks for all those who have died and to mark the moment appropriately. The service is open to any who grieve the loss of anyone dear to them, across all four benefice parishes.

Vivaldi Re-Imagined

Thank you to everyone who organised and provided a fine welcome at the charity concert last Saturday in North Curry. The concert was in aid of the North Curry "Appeal of Bells" and featured stunning performances, in particular the re-imaging of Vivaldi's Four Seasons by Fenella Humphreys (violin) for violin, percussion (George Barton), accordion (IƱigo Mikeleiz Berrade) and double bass (Ben Griffiths): an entrancing sound that gave everyone a great deal of enjoyment. And funds were raised!

Harvest Festivals

The season of harvest is upon us. Our four parishes will be celebrating harvest as follows: Lyng on 5th September at 6.30pm, Burrowbridge on 26th September at 10am, North Curry also on 26th September and also at 10am and Stoke St Gregory on 3rd October at 11am.

Bible Study: The Epistle of James

I have already publicised the bible study we are doing next month, beginning this coming Thursday in fact. There has been a little rethinking about the times and venues. I picked the date from mid-air: it seemed the only way to get things underway. However, I have since discovered that because there is so much going on beyond the churches on Thursdays (still getting the hang of this...) I have decided to on the study twice on a Thursday. This will hopefully enable people to come along according to their own schedule.

So, the sessions will run at 4pm in North Curry (in church) and 7pm in Stoke St Gregory (in the church room). Yo can mix and match, come to one (or both!) and change from week to week. I hope that will be flexible enough for people.

Just to remind you what the study is all about, the Epistle of James has much to offer as to how we view the world as Christians. In these times of global turmoil and the ever impending onset of climate change, we need to be aware of how our faith directs our behaviour. James writes about the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, the need to follow Christ and live in "The Way" as the early followers of Jesus described themselves. As COP26 looms over the horizon, it is worth reflecting how we, the Athelney Benefice, are part of this bigger picture.

What you need to do in preparation for the study sessions:

Not much. And nothing is obligatory! However, if you can, please do have a look at James's Epistle. Also, if you can, please do give some thought to how you step out into a world of challenge and turmoil. Also, also, if you can, please pray for how we learn together. Other than that, just turn up.

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