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.
To join us for the above, please contact the Parish Office for the log in details - firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you recall, as a child, ever being told “You must be blind, go and look again!”
Or as an adult, reflecting on an event, say to yourself “Why didn’t I see that, why didn’t I realize what was going on?”
Blindness is not only a physical state but can be a failure to notice things, to understand what has been really happening.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus is walking, with his disciples, from Galilee to Jerusalem. He is leaving the city of Jericho with a large crowd following him as well as his disciples. A blind man is sitting by the roadside and learns that it is Jesus of Nazareth that is coming towards him. Jesus hears the blind man shouting at him. He calls out that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. After Jesus heals him he follows Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.
When Mark’s gospel was written down as we have it today, the writer would have known of many more stories about Jesus than he could possibly use in his gospel. He must have carefully considered which ones to put in and which ones to leave out, and where to place each story in the gospel as a whole. The story of the blind man is the last healing story in the gospel of Mark, and it’s an important one.
It is often helpful to read what happened prior to the particular story we are reading. Jesus had been trying to teach the disciples, yet again, the nature of the kingdom of God. He said the Son of Man will be condemned to death, be flogged and killed and then rise again. He had also taught that it would be very hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom.
You may recall that last Sunday the gospel was the story of James and John asking for favoured places in the kingdom. They were thinking of Jesus as an earthly ruler; Jesus taught them not to look for power or privilege but to be servants and slaves. Mark says the disciples were amazed at what Jesus said, they didn’t understand what he taught them, and Mark says they were afraid to ask.
Contrast the disciples with the blind man, he wasn’t afraid to speak out, he asked Jesus for help, he shouted at him! He recognised Jesus as the Messiah and after his healing he became a disciple.
Who is really blind here and who can truly see?
Our first reading today was taken from the book of Job. We have been reading parts of the book of Job for most of the month of October. It is a book of wisdom literature, the story of a good man who undergoes great suffering and Job can’t understand why.
His so called friends try to give him advice and comfort, and suggest he must have sinned in some way. Job maintains his innocence; he says he has done nothing to deserve such suffering. He also maintains that God is good and would not punish him for no reason. God is silent, so Job cries out to God to defend him against his so called comforters.
Before the passage we have heard this morning God speaks to Job, he doesn’t explain to him why he is suffering, but God reminds Job of his power, his care for all his creation. Job is put in his place, so little does he know! What can Job possibly understand!
Job then answers God and says “I know you can do all things. I have spoken of things I have not understood”. Job has no further questions for God, nor does he have answers about his suffering. Job submits to God and repents for failing to humbly admit that as a man there are things he is incapable of understanding.
Our offertory hymn picks up this theme, our failure to understand so much. Like the disciples we are sometimes blind, and like Job we want to know why the world God has created, is as it is.
Why do the innocent suffer? Why are babies born with disabilities? Why does God, if he is all powerful, allow such violence in the world?
We think we should understand and some people reject their Christian faith because they think, if God is good, he would not allow such things to happen.
I know of a lady, who was a very committed Christian, who after the birth of a disabled grandchild decided that God could not be good and ceased to believe in any kind of God. We think we should understand why, and yet we can’t. So, let’s be humble, we are mere mortals, not gods, just a small part of God’s creation.
It's alright to accept the little we do know, and of course to be open to learning more about God’s creation. We need to hold on to what we do know, that God is our good and loving creator, and with humility to trust in that love and goodness.
Remember the words of Julian of Norwich “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.
HYMN OF THE WEEK
The story behind this hymn ‘How shall I sing?’ was John Masons 17th century hymn which attempts to picture the scene of all of heaven and earth bowing down before the throne of God.
The verses explore the wonderful sound created by angels, the church of God in heaven, the whole of creation, and of the church on here on earth – all joining together in one glorious song.
Service of Remembering
This year’s Service of Remembering will be held next Sunday - 31st October at 6.00pm.
Please sign the list in the Narthex today with any names you wish to be remembered at the service, or contact Ruth Cook on 01823 973787 or email@example.com.
All are welcome to come.
There will be a link for lighting a "virtual" candle on the Church of England website on our website and Facebook pages if you would find that helpful.
The new Diocesan course - will now be starting in January 2022.
If you would like a leaflet about it, then please speak to Ruth Cook.
‘Winter Warmer Lunch’ – 7th November
Bookings are now being taken for the ‘Winter Warmer lunch’ in the hall on Sunday 7th November at 12.00 noon. Menu not yet finalised, but likely to be pork and apple casserole and dessert, with a vegetarian alternative. £10 per person (£6 under 16s). See Alison Perry after the 10.00am service of contact the Parish Office to reserve your seat.
Parking Permit Scheme – Greenway Avenue
The new parking restrictions in Greenway Avenue will begin on 1 November. From that day you may only park on either side of the road if you have a resident’s permit between the hours of 8.00am and 8.00pm. If you are a disabled parking blue badge holder you may park under the existing system for up to 3 hours, but for an unlimited time when the new arrangements come in. You must display your blue badge.
Taunton Foodbank is looking for volunteers. If you would like more information please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01823 270316 mob: 07761 624216. Please note: These numbers are not manned 24/7.