St Andrews Church, Taunton

Reaching lives for change and hope

Newsletter 1

30th AUGUST 2020


10.00am Service of the Word


Collect: God of constant mercy, who sent your Son to save us: remind us of your goodness, increase your grace within us, that our thankfulness may grow, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings: Exodus 3.1-15, Romans 12.9-21, Matthew 16.21-28

For your prayers:

  • All those across the world affected by the Coronavirus; the sick and the frightened
  • For all medical professionals and researchers
  • The residents and staff of care homes, including those in our parish - Cedar Lodge, Aspen Court and Northway House
  • The sick and those who have died
  • Bishop Peter, Bishop Ruth and their families

Information Update and New Notices:

  • The Church will be open for private prayer on Sundays from 12 noon to 3.30pm and Thursdays from 9.00am to 12.30pm.

  • Meetings and events are suspended until further notice, and the hall and office will remain closed.

  • The Government is making face coverings mandatory in places of worship from the 8th August 2020.


CLIC Sargent

Our family knows only too well how valuable the work of the charity CLIC Sargent is for families whose children are undergoing treatment for childhood cancer. As you can imagine, CLIC Sargent, like many other charities, are suffering from lack of funding due to the current pandemic.

In previous years the charity has held a 10k walk on the Grand Western Canal which last year raised £22,637.  This year they are inviting people to complete the walk on any date between September and December, and our family has decided to walk on 20th September.  If you would like to support us in helping to raise much needed funds for this charity which supported our granddaughter, Sophie, for the 27 months of her treatment for leukaemia, please contact us on 07445116115.  Every penny donated will help CLIC Sargent support many more families at a crucial time in their lives.  Thank you.

Alison and Bill Perry, Nicola Perry and Carolyn and Evie Tudor

Face Masks

Esther Checketts has reiterated her offer of free home-made face masks for anyone in the congregation who would like one.  Please email Lesley using the Parish Office email address if you would like a mask and Lesley will co-ordinate the replies to Esther.

Community Art Project – Hope

An opportunity to draw or paint Christian symbols of hope, using a circle design, which can be displayed to the wider community.  Please contact Katy on 01823 330854 for more information.

Yarn Bombing

Get creative with your knitting needles and crochet hooks so that we can yarn bomb the railings around the Church Hall to show a visual presence of St Andrew’s being there for the community.  Please contact Esther on 07879 491276 or Sue on 07791 721780 for more information.


Who Am I?

Young vocations have been encouraged by the Church of England for some years now, and so I found myself training for ordination alongside many younger people. One day, chatting in our accommodation block, I said that a friend of mine, the same age as me in our late 30s, saw herself as middle aged, but I wouldn’t see myself as middle aged just yet. ‘Oh!,’ said Ben, a young man in his early 20s in surprise. ‘So how would you see yourself?’ 

I like to think it is not my growing amount of grey hair and lines that led to Ben’s surprise, but my growing maturity and wisdom, but I could be wrong about that! It did strike me that I had clocked up significantly more life experience than my 20-something colleagues, with a range of different jobs and churches behind me, and had arrived in ordination training in rather a different place in my life. 

In our Exodus reading, we encounter Moses as a man beyond middle age. In Acts 7, Stephen, speaking before the Council, recounts the story of Moses. He tells us that Moses was 40 when he killed an Egyptian and so had to leave Egypt for Midian, and that he spent 40 years there, so according to this he would have been 80 when he met God in the burning bush. This is unlikely to be exact; in the Jewish tradition 40 years is considered a generation, and the number 40 symbolizes transition and change, renewal and new beginnings. Stephen recognises these moments as significant shifts in Moses’ life. 

The story of Moses killing an Egyptian is left out of the Sunday lectionary, but it’s well worth reading Exodus 2:11-25, because it helps us make sense of the conversation between God and Moses in our passage today. Moses had grown up as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, raised as an Egyptian prince in wealth and privilege and power. But he makes a different choice in his adult life. He identifies himself as a Hebrew, and sees their suffering in Egypt in their forced labour. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews puts it, ‘By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin’ (Heb 11:24-25). 

But at this point in the story, things don’t work out well. Seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses is filled with a zeal that leads him to kill the Egyptian. He thinks it has gone unseen and he will get away with it. But the next day when he tries to break up a fight between two Hebrews, the one in the wrong asks him, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed that Egyptian?’ 

Moses has seen the struggles of his people, and has stepped out to make a difference. He has wanted to offer leadership and direct action. But his actions lack wisdom and judgement. He does not find himself not welcomed as a Hebrew hero, but rejected as a murderer with no right to speak or act for the Hebrew people. When he runs away to Midian, he meets his future wife and her sisters who identify him as an Egyptian. He is no Hebrew leader. But he is on the run because Pharaoh has found out what’s happened and plans to kill him. He’s no prince of Egypt any more either. 

So who is he? He names his son Gershom, for he says, ‘I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.’ He has not found his place or his identity in the world. 

I wonder what dreams you may have had of changing the world? Perhaps when we are young, it is natural for all things to seem possible. And for some of us to have a confidence in our ability to make a difference that might border on arrogance. But for many of us, our experiences will have shown us not only our strengths and abilities, but also our own weaknesses and limits. Whatever we may have achieved, we probably have some failures or disappointments behind us. Our hopes and dreams may then be set aside as we settle for an easier life. 

Moses settles in to life in Midian, keeping his father-in-law’s flock. But God has other plans. God has seen the misery of his people in Egypt, how they are oppressed and suffering. He’s going to deliver them. And he knows who he is going to work with and through. Moses, who saw and wanted to act, but couldn’t deliver the Israelites in his own strength. And by now, Moses has had time to learn that. 

‘So come,’ says God to Moses. ‘I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ 

‘Who am I?’ says Moses. ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He’s asking, Who am I? I don’t even know if I’m an Egyptian or an Israelite, because I’ve been rejected by both and I don’t seem to belong anywhere. Who am I? I’ve tried and I’ve failed, so I know I don’t have what it takes. 

But God doesn’t seem concerned about helping Moses figure out the answer to his question, Who am I? The thing God really wants Moses to know is that ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’ Moses isn’t on his own now. And it’s not a case of if he brings the people out of Egypt, but when. Now is God’s timing. Now, when Moses knows he’s going to have to trust God and rely on him. 

Why now? Weren’t all the years Moses spent in Midian a waste? In Egypt, Moses was no doubt surrounded by servants taking care of him. In his time as a shepherd in Midian, Moses has learned to take care of a flock and their needs. He has gained a wife who will later act to protect his life (4:24-26) and a father-in-law who will later give him wise advice about appointing other leaders to help him lead Israel and stop him burning out (chapter 18). 

Sometimes, there are times in our lives where it looks like nothing much is going on. We’re just getting on with it. But God is at work in those times. Providing, teaching, preparing.

I sensed a call to ordination 10 years before it felt like the right time to pursue it formally with my diocese. During that time, I spent 8 years working in the kitchen at Trinity College where I would later train for ordination. Some might see that as a waste. But in that time, I learned to feed and take care of God’s people day by day, getting on with chopping the vegetables or laying the tables over and over again. So far, my experience of ordained ministry is that it has its high points, but much of it is worked out in the faithful routines of doing things over and over! I also made connections with many ordinands over the years, some of whom I now meet again as friendly faces and voices of encouragement whether at deanery chapter or diocesan events. God was doing something with that ‘Midian season’ in my life. 

And if you are metaphorically ‘in Midian,’ just getting on with it, God will be at work too, perhaps in ways you don’t recognise. But there may come a moment when God wants to get your attention. Now you might think if that was through a burning bush, you’d definitely spot that. But in our passage, we read that ‘When the LORD saw that Moses had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush.’ God is waiting, watching Moses, to see if he will turn aside. And the really amazing and important thing here is not that a bush is burning, but that the living God is present and reaching out to Moses. 

As you walk your path, be alert to the presence of the living God on it. For whatever hopes and dreams you have laid aside along with your youth, whatever failures and disappointments you have clocked up, whether you are 80 years old, or whether you cannot imagine God would have plans and purposes for you, the question that matters is in the end is not ‘Who am I?’

But ‘who is God?’ ‘I AM who I AM,’ God says. Not a God whom we can limit by our definitions, but ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Our God who reaches out in relationship with his people and is faithful through the generations. Our God who will be with you in whatever he calls you to do.

Katy Gough


I will sing the wondrous story

The words of this hymn were written by Francis Harold Rowley (1854-1952) who was a minister of the First Baptist Church of North Adams, Massachusetts. In 1886 wrote “The church and community were experiencing a period of unusual interest in religious matters” Rowley was asked by a young singer Peter Bilhorn to write a hymn and during the night the verses came to him. It originally began ‘Can’t you sing the wondrous story’? When the hymn was first published by Sankey in 1887 it was changed to ‘I will sing the wondrous story’. The tune is one of the most loved Welsh tunes, Hyfrydol, composed by Rowland Hugh Pritchard.

I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
how he left the realms of glory
for the cross on Calvary.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with his saints in glory,
gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,

found the sheep that went astray,

raised me up and gently led me

back into the narrow way

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story

of the Christ who died for me

sing it with his saints in glory,

gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river

Rolls its waters at my feet

Then he’ll bear me safely over

Where the loved ones I shall meet

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story

of the Christ who died for me

sing it with his saints in glory,

gathered by the crystal sea.


O Lord, my heart is not proud,

nor haughty my eyes

I have not gone after things too great

nor marvels beyond me

Truly, I have set my soul in silence and peace,

at rest, as a child in its mother’s arms,

so is my soul.

From Psalm 131 in the Grail Psalter.

  • St Andrews Church
  • Greenway Avenue
  • Taunton
  • Somerset
  • TA2 6HU

01823 332531
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