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Newsletter 

Below you will find our latest newsletter:

 

 3rd July 2022

 

Thomas the Apostle

10.00am  Parish Eucharist
 

 
Collect: God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
 
Readings: Habakkuk 2.1-4, Ephesians 2.19-end, John 20.24-29
 
Post Communion: O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining and whose power we cannot comprehend: show us your glory as far as we can grasp it, and shield us from knowing more than we can bear until we may look upon you without fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
 
 

Church Diary
The Church will be open during office hours
Tuesdays to Fridays 8.30-11.30am
 
 
Monday
 
July 4
 
12.30pm Funeral of Dena Scott, Crematorium
 
 
Tuesday
 
 
July 5
 
9.00am Zoom Morning Prayer
9.30am Church Mice
 
 
Wednesday
 
July 6
 
10.00am Holy Eucharist
2.00pm Funeral of Susan Chibnall, Church
7.30pm Living in Love and Faith course, Church
 
 
Thursday
 
July 7
 
PCC meeting
 
 
Friday
 
July 8
 
7.30pm Choir practice
 
 
  
                                                      ********************************

RIP: Susan Chibnall
        Dena Scott

Years Mind:  08/07 Paul Trott
 
For your prayers:
 
Peace with justice for the people of Ukraine
The people of Afghanistan and Yemen
All refugees
Those parts of the world still affected by the Coronavirus but with little access to vaccines.
Bishop Ruth, our Acting Diocesan Bishop
Pray for Bishop Michael, our Diocesan Bishop Elect, as he prepares to come to Bath & Wells
Anyone we know in need of our prayers
Appointment of a new Director of Music
 
                                                          ***************************
 
Zoom Morning Prayer - Tuesdays at 9am
Around 8 of us are enjoying beginning the day together once a week on Zoom with a time of prayer and Bible readings. There is usually time for a chat afterwards too in our meeting, which lasts for 40 minutes. All are welcome to join us. No books or apps are needed as all the words are shared on the screen from the Church of England website. 
Please contact the Parish Office on 01823 332531 if you would like the details.
 

REFLECTION

We Christians have a faith, expressed, for example, in our Creeds. On this third Sunday of the season of Trinity, we believe in one God, who is yet three persons equal in power and dignity, namely God the Father, who created and sustains the universe, God the Son, born into human society as Jesus the child of Mary and Joseph, who fully shares our human nature, and God the Holy Spirit, who flows through all things in the universe animating and sanctifying what has been made by the God who is perfect Love.

This is our faith, but I am suspicious of those who claim that they never have any doubts about what they hold most dear and true. If you are such a person, then your faith is the same as certitude and certitude carries with it several risks. It may make a person dogmatic and intolerant of views that challenge one’s convictions. It sometimes induces complacency, so that you think that there is nothing else to learn about the deep mystery of God in Trinity. It may make you puritanical and harshly judgmental about the views of others on matters of faith and religion.

I would go so far as to say that a faith that is subject to no doubt is positively unhealthy, because it is detached from the tawdry, messy, complicated and confusing realities that intrude into our lives, unless we deliberately close our eyes to all the tragedies and comedies that occur in the day to day experiences of most people.

I am not ashamed of occasionally railing at God for the world that he has bought into being, when I look at pictures of children burnt to a frazzle by a Russian missile in a Ukrainian supermarket, or Uighur Muslims being supposedly re-educated by Han Chinese instructors carrying sub-machine guns in modern concentration camps, or refugee families huddled in tattered tents in 45 degree temperatures in Yemen, slowly starving to death.

At such times my sense of powerlessness to change such a world in a meaningful way puts me in the same enraged and frustrated frame of mind as many an Old Testament Psalmist, or prophet, like Habakuk, screaming at the injustice of this world and wondering why God is not acting powerfully in defence of the innocent and bringing his wrath down in terrible retribution upon the heads of the guilty.

A Christian faith that is not subject to such moments of challenge is a blind faith, and a blind faith is in denial of some truly terrible realities which make this world something other than paradise for too many of God’s children, when they fall victim to the selfish wickedness of evil men who regard the lives of others as dispensable.

A general scepticism is an outlook of which I increasingly approve in an era of fake news, manipulation of information by spin doctors and an attack by populists and autocrats on democratic institutions such as a free press, a right to public protest, a judiciary fully protected against State harassment and security services accountable to elected representatives. Truth and fact can now be distorted with impunity to serve the interests of power-hungry tyrants and genocidal war criminals.

Habakkuk is in a noble tradition of prophetic sceptics, whose faith in a God who is just and merciful has been severely tested by the destruction of Jerusalem with its Temple and the abduction of its entire population into exile in Babylon. He presents himself as a watchman looking out from his watchtower desperate for his God to answer his complaint.

In our Old Testament reading God does indeed respond to the prophet’s lament, but with a startling message. Be patient! Salvation will be provided. The guilty will feel God’s retribution in due time, but where is your faith? “The righteous live by their faith”. We all need to remember  this, especially when we feel most angry with God. We must be patient and continue to trust that his good purposes will be realised in the end.

Such an attitude is not blind faith, but reflects the experience of the people of God both in Old and in New Testament times. There is never any cause for despair, however much we may be hurting at any moment.

Later in the book God tells Habakkuk that it is the Babylonians who have been agents of his justice, because Israel required to be punished for its faithlessness, but the Covenant people will in time know God’s salvation and the Babylonians in turn will deservedly experience his wrath.

Habakkuk’s demand for God to manifest his power to save his people is answered unexpectedly, but reassuringly. His patience will be rewarded and he will see the salvation of Israel, but in God’s time and in accordance with his agenda, and so the prophet’s initial scepticism and outrage are transformed by the end of the book into a radiant faith. The book’s last sentence is, “I shall be joyful in the God of my salvation.”

In this way we see that living by faith secures not only righteousness, the proper relationship with God, but also the knowledge of salvation, which is the cause of joy. If we feel no joy in our faith, there is a deficiency in our understanding of God’s nature and will for us.

We see the same journey from doubt and scepticism to radiant faith and joy in John’s account of the risen Christ’s encounter with his Apostle, Thomas. Today is dedicated to Thomas’ memory and he is honoured as the Apostle who took the gospel as far as Kerala in South India. He is the patron saint of that country as well as of architects in recognition of the huge number of churches which he founded and had built in India between 52 and 72 A.D., when he was martyred for his faith.

I feel great sympathy with Thomas who had not been present, when the risen Lord had first appeared to the other Apostles. He is a rationalist. He demands to see with his own eyes what he deems to be quite impossible, for the dead do not miraculously rise and appear to the living.

When Christ appears a second time and offers the proofs of the reality of his Resurrection that Thomas had demanded, the Apostle no longer needs those proofs and is at once convinced. His confession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, is one of the most moving moments in the gospel.

In matters of religious faith the limits of rationality are exposed in Thomas’ embarrassment. Doubting Thomas no longer doubts, but his example is for our benefit, for Christ calls blessed those who are prepared to believe in the Resurrection without benefit of direct experience, but on the testimony of others, whom they trust.

Our Christian faith and our membership of Christ’s Body on earth, which is the Church, is founded upon those same Apostles, as the short but beautiful passage from the Letter to the Ephesians 2 indicates. Effectively, for two thousand years the disciples of Christ have depended for their faith not on their own eyes, but on “the eyes of faith” - that is to say their trust in the Scriptural witness of those who had either known the Lord personally, or were part of the leadership of the early Church in the years immediately after the Resurrection.

None of us have seen the risen Christ, but we believe that he has been raised from the dead, has ascended to the Father and has sent us the Spirit to consolidate the Church in faith and fellowship. To have such a faith is indeed a blessing, but does not absolve us from using all our God-given gifts of rationality and discernment in the management of our lives.

Just because we accept the reality of Christ’s Resurrection on the basis of what we read in Scripture and on our experience of fellowship in Christ within the life of the Church, the moral ambiguity of the broken world in which we live requires us to be as sceptical as Thomas had once been, if we are to avoid being deceived by the unscrupulous and the manipulative.

It may be noble to be “fools for Christ”, like the artless St. Francis, or St. Clare, but we have no excuse for being the dupes of Trump, or Putin, or Zhi Jinping, or any other worldly charlatan. Let us continue to trust in the providence of God, who has saved us from alienation from him through the self-sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross and has promised us eternal life through faith in him.

We cannot go through life without having our faith tested from time to time by unexpected events and reverses, but let us try to abide in Christ and seek the support of the Holy Spirit in sustaining our trust in God’s unconditional love and mercy. In such a faith is the seed of real and deep joy. Amen.

Munna Mitra

OTHER NOTICES

 
Summer Lunch - 10th July
The Summer Lunch to celebrate St Andrew’s Church’s 141st birthday will take place after the 10.00am service on Sunday 10th July and for £10 (£6 children) you can enjoy a Ploughman’s Lunch, meringue, fruit and cream, followed by coffee and mints.  See one of the Fundraising Team, or contact the Parish Office to book your place.  (Please advise if you have special dietary needs)
 
Painting of the Green Railings
Please note that the painting of the railings on the Green is going to take some considerable time and will be an ongoing project.  We will be meeting every Mondays and Saturdays if anyone is available to join us.  Please bring wire brush and paint brush if you have these.  Many thanks, David Budd
 
Taunton Foodbank
Taunton Foodbank (Belvedere Road, Taunton) currently has a number of different volunteering roles in its warehouse and distribution room, as well as needing drivers to collect donations from local supermarkets using the Foodbank’s van. More information can be obtained by emailing info@taunton.foodbank.org.uk
 
For Railway Enthusiasts
There is a large quantity of books on the window in the narthex which belonged to the late Geoff Brownsey.
If there are any of the books which interest you, then please take them.
Any which are left over are going to be given to the West Somerset Railway for their shop.
Thank you, Alan
 
Train as a Debt Advisor 
Many people experience financial difficulties at some point in their life, but however bad the situation might be, there are always steps that can be taken to make things better.  As a Debt Adviser it is a very special privilege to walk with someone as they transition from being in financial difficulties into freedom from debt.  Taunton Area Debt Advice is a Christian Charity with a team of trained FCA approved volunteer debt advisors. We aim to take the burden off the shoulders of clients and provide them with a plan, make arrangements and negotiate agreements. We provide hope. We are increasing our team of Debt Advisers as we see a rise in the number of people in financial difficulty. You will receive training and supervision and we ask that you are in agreement with the ethos of this Christian Ministry. Interested? Contact Steven Reed for an initial discussion on 07794552321.
 
 

SUNDAY

10th July 2022

 

Dedication Festival

 

10.00am Parish Eucharist
12.00 Summer Lunch in the Church Hall

 

 

Readings: 1 Chronicles 29.6-19, Ephesians 2.19-end,
John 2.13-22
 
 
 

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Glenys
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