Updates From the Rector - February 2021

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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Week Commencing 7th February 2021 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Dear Friends,


I trust this finds you all as well as possible, in good spirits and importantly staying vigilant and taking care.  Since last week things have remained static on the 'church front' although I'm sure we'd all wish to set this in the context of the continued high level of fatalities and Covid admissions.  So very little by way of an update as things are unchanged from this email's perspective and the underneath by way of our staying connected to worship and our corporate faith.


UPDATE


There is, sadly yet reasonably and inevitably, no need for a further update - you may, as always, find recent updates and copies of these emails at www.wemcofe.co.uk .  As always up to date information may be found on the Church of England website  and latest updates on guidance are also on our diocesan website.   Wem PCC Standing Committee will be meeting by ZOOM at 20:00 on Tue 9th Feb to review the possibilities of SS Peter & Paul's resuming Public Worship.


Whilst the churches in our benefice remain closed at present if you wish to go in then please do not feel excluded I am sure this can be easily facilitated - simply let me know


CALL TO PRAYER


May I reiterate last week's call from our Archbishops to prayer?  I know this is something many of you are positively engaging in which is heartening on many levels and although the link is styled 'Prayer for the nation' I'm confident we will take this as a call to pray for all in the midst of a global pandemic.  Archbishops Justin and Stephen wrote:


"Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on 1st February we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day. More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love. 

A number of resources will be made available at www.ChurchofEngland.org/PrayerForTheNation.";


Lovely feedback I've had re this initiative was the encouraging suggestion that perhaps we will be strengthened by knowing that even at a Benefice level we are not on our own.  Perhaps knowing what others are doing can add to our own intent so why not let me and therefore one another know what you (maybe with others by phone or zoom or similar) are doing in response to A'bishop Justin and Stephen's call.  I'd keep any 'letting know' strictly anonymous (see Matthew 6. 1-6) but what a way to show we are all in this together?


THIS SUNDAY: THE SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE LENT


This week we yet have another gift of an on-line sermon, this time from Preb Terry Bloor Associate Archdeacon of Stoke on Trent.  I found Terry's sermon encouraging and stimulating and trust you will too.   Text of the sermon is here and may be followed here.


LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL


08:00 - The Eucharist (traditional language)

10:30 - Choral Eucharist for The Second Sunday before Lent

17:30 - Evensong


OR

 

Access the C of E website to find details of this week's service which you can also watch during the week, it is available from 09:00.   Do visit the site, there are many excellent services saved on here which can still merit a 'watch'.


09:00 - 'The Second Sunday before Lent.'  Watch this extract from our weekly service, led by Rev Liz Clutterbuck.  From Emmanuel Holloway Church, the full service marks the Second Sunday before Lent.


THIS SUNDAY on BBC

  

Radio Four:  08:10 - 'Chinese New Year'. (Bet you didn't expect that!) Marking Chinese New Year and what is likely to be the largest immigration from outside Europe (since Windrush), from Hong Kong.  Chinese Christians have been worshipping in the UK for all of our lifetimes.  Today the Chinese Christian community flourishes with congregations preaching in English, Mandarin, Cantonese in most major towns and cities across the country.  This worship, led by The Rev Harry Lu explores the themes of hospitality and welcome - preacher The Rev Connie Yu.


BBC One:  13:15.  Songs of Praise.  'Gospel Singer of the Year.'.  Final from Gorton Monastery in Manchester.


Please find attached the readings, a homily and an especially good Live the Word for this Sun (courtesy of Redemptorist Publications) - thanks again to Mike F for this month's copies.  Also find attached our Local Prayer Diary and the Diocesan Prayer Diary.  


The Eucharist will be celebrated on behalf of the whole Benefice at 10:30 on Sunday 7th Feb (in SS P&P's Wem).


LENT DISCUSSION GROUP


Lent has always been a time for us to reflect more deeply about our faith in and life with Christ, and often to meet with others to encourage one another and share what we are learning together.  How to do this in present circumstances?  As usual, there is material to help.  The Live Lent – God’s Story - Our Story booklet offers brief reflections for each day of Lent.  How does our faith story relate to the stories of God in the Bible?  Based on the Archbishops’ Lent book for 2021 – Living His Story by Hannah Steele. You can find out more from the Church of England website. 

The booklet can be followed individually but also offers opportunities to discuss and learn together, so a weekly online meeting via Zoom will be hosted by Katharine Murray for the 6 weeks of Lent.  If you would like to join in, please get in touch and let me know know which evening in the week you would prefer and also if you would like a copy of the booklet to follow at home.  All welcome.


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK


Amongst the many very useful materials available on-line I find Dean Adrian Durber's (Dean of Lichfield Cathedral) messages extremely helpful.  His latest, reflecting on our cathedral's being used as part of the vaccination programme, is very powerful.  In this Dean Adrian writes :


"For sure, every time a Cathedral does something other than choral evensong, cultured and cultivated voices cry “Betrayal” or argue we are selling out to secularism.  It has to be admitted that most forms of human religion put and police a boundary between sacred and profane: walls, screens, customs and codes make them apparent.  Christians, however, have to recognise the paradox of Jesus Christ himself.  God and the stuff of creation meet in this person.  Much of his ministry was to demonstrate the devastating consequences of sealing off God from the sheer mess, pain and brokenness of human life.  His truth is that human living is held and understood by God and God’s love, beauty and presence are not confined to sacred texts or sacred buildings: these only serve to illuminate the way God is to be experienced in mercy, right acts, healing and forgiveness.  Christ’s incarnation is the bridge between what we call secular and sacred.  The Church finds itself being most authentic when it not only proclaims but becomes a channel for God’s grace to touch the world."


'God and the stuff of creation meet in this person'.   'His truth is that human living is held and understood by God and God’s love, beauty and presence are not confined to sacred texts or sacred buildings: these only serve to illuminate the way God is to be experienced in mercy, right acts, healing and forgiveness.'   - may the Dean's words give us Hope - and inspiration.














Keep looking after one another and those around you, stay safe,



Nick

N P Heron

Rector of Wem, Lee Brockhurst and Weston-under-Redcastle

01939 232550


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Week Commencing 14th February 2021 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Dear Friends,


My dear maternal grandmother had a phrase that came to the fore at this time of the year, I can still hear her saying it with her lovely S Manchester accent: "As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens".  Goodness me hasn't this week proven her right (again)?!  I hope this finds you managing to keep warm and keeping safe and well   It is so important that we maintain our vigilance - please keep taking care, as we know well the speedy vaccine roll-out should not lull us into a false sense of security.

Unsurprisingly there is little new to report on the status of our public worship or church activities since my last few bulk emails - however, in what follows there are some very important words from our Archbishops, further guidance from Michael our Diocesan Bishop alongside the weekly devotional and material for this coming Sunday including an absolutely wonderful sermon/homily - so do please read on.


UPDATE


As always up to date information may be found at Church of England website  and latest updates on guidance are also on our diocesan website.  You may, as always, find recent updates and copies of these emails at www.wemcofe.co.uk .


+Michael's most up to date guidance is here for those who may wish to see this.

  

Wem PCC Standing Committee reviewed the possibilities of SS Peter & Paul's resuming Public Worship and decided that with another upwards creep in local transmission rates now was not the time to do so although they really hope to do so 'ere long.


Whilst the churches in our benefice remain closed at present if you wish to go in then please do not feel excluded I am sure this can be easily facilitated - simply let me know.


ARCHBISHOPS' ARTICLE AND MESSAGE


Archbishops Justin and Stephen have written an article which corrects misrepresentations of the Church in relation to how it is responding, or will respond, to the challenges of covid; as you may have read or heard of these speculations about our Church's future in the media I have attached the text of their article which first appeared in 'The Spectator'.  It contains not only the facts of the matter but more than a little inspiration about the place of our (hopefully) beloved C of E. or please click here.   It is not a long read and certainly 'to the point'. 


Our Archbishops have also released the following message in relation to LGBT+ History Month, which is this month.  Click here to read it..


THIS SUNDAY: THE SUNDAY NEXT BEFORE LENT


This week we have a real gem of a gift of an on-line sermon from The Rev Simon Foster who is our Diocesan Mission Team Leader and Chaplaincy and Mission Strategy Enabler.  Simon's sermon is wonderful either listened to or read.......or indeed both!.  Text of the sermon is here and may be followed here.


LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL


08:00 - The Eucharist (traditional language)

10:30 - Choral Eucharist for The Sunday Next Before Lent

17:30 - Evensong


OR

 

Access the C of E website to find details of this week's service which you can also watch during the week, it is available from 09:00.  Do visit the site, there are many excellent services saved on here which can still merit a 'watch'.


09:00 - 'The Sunday Next Before Lent.'  Rev Helen Shannon leads a service to mark the Sunday next before Lent.


THIS SUNDAY on BBC

 

Radio Four:  08:10 - 'Facets of Lover'.  With Baptist minister The Rev John Littledale, focusing on 1 John 4. 7-21


BBC One:  13:15 - Songs of Praise.  'Love and Lent.'.  Sean Fletcher marks both the start of Lent and St Valentine's Day at Ripon Cathedral.  [Just a tad premature for Lent perhaps??]


Please find attached the readingsa homily and Live the Word for this Sun (courtesy of Redemptorist Publications) - thanks again to Mike F for this month's copies.  Also find attached our Local Prayer Diary, the Diocesan Prayer Diary is sadly not available.  


The Eucharist will be celebrated on behalf of the whole Benefice at 10:30 on Sunday 7th Feb (in SS P&P's Wem).


THE REV PREB PAM FREEMAN RIP


Whilst many of you will have heard the sad news it is so important to ensure all know that Pam Freeman sadly passed away on Sat (6 Feb).  Pam served the Church throughout this diocese for many, many years and latterly on 'retirement' across this Benefice and Episcopal area, known to many if not all of you as both a priest and friend.  Please hold her family, especially Chris her husband and their children in your thoughts and prayers:  'Rest eternal grant unto her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her.  May she rest in peace.'  Amen.


LENT 


This, of course, begins this week on Wednesday 17th Feb - Ash Wednesday.  A further 'bulk' email will follow on Mon/Tue specifically for Ash Wednesday detailing on-line services etc and including an Ash Wednesday Reflection from +Michael.


RACIAL JUSTICE SUNDAY


Last year marked the Silver Jubilee of this international and ecumenical movement to focus on the importance of racial justice to our faith.  To commemorate this Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has focused on the 'Three R's', as the CTBI website expresses these:

Remembering the importance of racial justice

Reflecting on human diversity and thanking God for it

Responding by working to end injustice, racism and ignorance through prayer and action.

They are known as the “Three ‘R”s’ because education in its broadest sense, plays such a key role in racial justice. As a result, we have decided to republish the wealth of material that has been created over 25 to celebrate RJS, to the Silver Jubilee anniversary. These resources are diverse in nature and explore the issue of racial justice from various perspectives. Some of these resources were produced by CTBI sponsoring churches, while others were written by key figures from within ecumenical movement in Britain and Ireland. What they all have in common is their pertinence and prescience on the important matter of racial justice, and the need for brothers and sisters in Christ to engage with it.


To read and learn more please go to the website for CBTI where you will find a plethora of inspirational ecumenical material.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK


Taken from today's Church of England website 'opening page' - it requires no explanation but perhaps calls us all to think........and pray


The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has released a prayer ahead of Racial Justice Sunday this week written by Anderson Jeremiah, a member of the taskforce.


Love incarnate,
Fountain of Mercy and Justice
In a world of inequity and pain
May our actions be our prayer. 
We cry out for Shalom, fullness of life to all.
Let the Spirit of Truth guide us.
Let the Spirit of Love free us. 
Give us the compassion, courage and resolve
to become the light, we seek
that many may see life and their dignity restored
Inspire us to embody a world without injustice and prejudice  
Form us into channels of your love and peace 
Let the river of justice and mercy flood our imperfect world  
Quenching the thirst of parched souls and lands.
Abide in us o Liberator that we become the Word 
so that the world may have Life, Life in all its abundance.

Amen


Taken from the book Christian Aid book Rage & Hope: 75 Prayers for a Better World’,  Edited by Chine McDonald














I trust that before long we don't have to have recourse to so many layers of clothing and that this cold snap soon evaporates - but we do need to take continued care, please do just that, stay safe and have the best week you can.  Every good wish,


Nick 

N P Heron

Rector of Wem, Lee Brockhurst and Weston-under-Redcastle

01939 232550


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Ash Wednesday & Lent 2021 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Dear Friends,


As with so much else  Ash Wednesday and Lent will, of necessity, be rather different this year - even were we to be holding services the Imposition of Ashes would not be permissible.  However, it will still be possible for all to join in devotions for Ash Wednesday and observe Lent albeit it with a very different feel, hopefully notwithstanding our pro tem physical separation from one another we may still be able to keep the spirit of this venerable season.  Hopefully it will not be too long before we are able to resume public worship, subject of course to the precautions we know are required.


In the Order for the beginning of Lent at the start of the service the celebrant says the following: “Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting………. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word."


Our diocese has provided what I trust will be a great help to many of us in the above, as Bishop Michael recently wrote to all his clergy:


"Ash Wednesday will necessarily be kept at home by most of us this year, as the great majority of churches in the diocese are currently closed for public worship. In fact, this annual reminder of our mortality and of our need to seek out the mercy of God is well adapted to domestic observance. Whether as individuals or as members of a family, household or support bubble, the traditional marking with ash can be easily done in the home. I am enclosing to this end a simple form from the Church of England, which can either be used on its own or combined with an online service."


Please find attached the 'simple form' of service to which +Michael refers.  The Cathedral on-line Ash Wednesday Eucharists may be accessed very, very easily by following this link.


+Michael continued.


 "I also attach a letter from Canon Andrew Stead, our Canon Precentor, with more background on Ash Wednesday and an open invitation to join online in the Cathedral’s celebrations of the Eucharist on Ash Wednesday at 12.30pm and 7.30pm". 


Canon Andrew's letter is attached.   Bishop Michael went on to write:


"For those for whom this may be helpful, I have also recorded a short video reflection for Ash Wednesday, which is available on our diocesan website." 


You may access this video reflection here


Nothing can replace our physical, tangible gathering to begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, that is clear - however, it would be so positive to think that actually more of us may through the above join in, still in a real sense together as one, than might have in 'ordinary times'.


If you are wondering how you might further keep Lent then our diocesan website has created a very accessible weekly resource.   Each week is laid out in the same way, beginning with a very brief introduction to a topic, some suggested Bible passages, questions to prompt reflection and further resources should you wish to continue engaging with the topic.  This very much meets our common call to the 'observance of a holy Lent' and mirrors +Michael's hope  "that people will engage in a fresh encounter with the guidance and challenge of the scriptures as they relate to contemporary issues" .  To see our diocesan material go to the following web page,


I make no claims to be a mind reader (I fear it is probably just as well, for my own comfort, that I'm not!...a joke) yet still feel I can hear some of you reflecting that 'actions speak louder than words' and 'all the above is very well and good but'.......  Well for those of a more 'practical bent' there is something many of us can do to keep a dutiful and holy Lent, the season has long been associated with fasting - for some this is not a faithful option but a terrible reality, if you are able could there be anything more practical than making an extra donation to our local Food Bank as part of your Lent?


May I warmly yet strongly encourage you to consider joining in any or all of the above, safe in your own home.  In doing so my hope (and indeed strong suspicion) is that for all the sad and tragic necessity lying behind our circumstances that this year more of us may keep Ash Wednesday and Lent in a Holy and fruitful way.


With my every good wish, keep yourselves safe,




Nick

N P Heron

Rector of Wem, Lee Brockhurst and Weston-under-Redcastle

01939 232550


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Week Commencing 21st February 2021 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Dear Friends,


Greetings at the end of another seasonally varied week!  I trust this finds you in continued good spirits, as well as possible and continuing to take every care possible for both yourself and those around you.

Yet again there is little new to report on the status of our public worship or church activities since my last few bulk emails - only that this will be reviewed across the benefice this coming week and any change will be notified via email if or as soon as made.


UPDATE


As always up to date information may be found at Church of England website  and latest updates on guidance are also on our diocesan website.   You may, as always, find recent updates and copies of these emails on our church web site  on the St Peter’s and Paul web site


Whilst the churches in our benefice remain closed at present if you wish to go in then please do not feel excluded I am sure this can be easily facilitated - simply let me know.


ARCHBISHOPS' ARTICLE 


This is so important a statement that I am including for a second week - if you did not have the opportunity to read last week please endeavour to do so this week.   This article by Archbishops Justin and Stephen which first appeared in 'The Spectator' corrects misrepresentations of the Church in relation to how it is responding, or will respond, to the challenges of covid;  It contains not only the facts of the matter but more than a little inspiration about the place of our (hopefully) beloved C of E.    It is not a long read and certainly 'to the point'. 


Our Archbishops have also released the following message in relation to LGBT+ History Month, which is this month of February.


THIS SUNDAY: THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT


It was so encouraging to read such positive feedback to Simon Foster's sermon of last week, this week we have a sermon from another member of +Michael's core team, one who gain may not be known to most of you - The Ven Dr Sue Weller who is Archdeacon of Lichfield.  The sermon's title, which might well make you read on (or listen) 'Where Do We Find Hope'.  Text of the sermon is here and may be followed here.


LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL


08:00 - The Eucharist (traditional language)

10:30 - Choral Eucharist for The First Sunday of Lent

17:30 - Evensong

 

OR

 

Access the C of E website to find details of this week's service which you can also watch during the week, it is available from 0900.   Do visit the site, there are many excellent services saved on here which can still merit a 'watch'.


09:00 - 'The First Sunday of Lent.'  Hear from Rev Canon Paul Cartwright, in this extract from our weekly service.  From St James the Great, Ryhill, the full online church service marks the First Sunday of Lent.


THIS SUNDAY on BBC

 

 Radio Four:  08:10 - Lent One 'Jesus and the Father: United'.  Marking the first Sunday in Lent with Father Dermot Preston SJ of St Aloysius' RC Church in Glasgow, and spirituality guide, Mary O'Duffin.  during lent, Radio 4 Worship programmes take inspiration from Jesuit spirituality - a form of prayer and bible contemplation pioneered by St Ignatius of Loyola and used widely today.  Fr Dermot explores the theme of Jesus' Temptations. reflecting on the challenges to our own instincts and choices.


BBC One:  11:00 - Lent 1.  The first in a series of services for the season of Lent.  This week's service comes from St Cuthbert's Church, Fulwood, Preston, led by The Rev Mark Bradford


        13:15 - Songs of Praise.  'Faith and Hospitality.'  Katherine Jenkins visits L'Abri fellowship in Hampshire to explore Christian faith          and hospitality.


Please find attached the readingsLive the Word (with an excellent Reflection) and Homily for this Sun (courtesy of Redemptorist Publications).  Also find attached our Local Prayer Diary and the Diocesan Prayer Diary.


The Eucharist will be celebrated on behalf of the whole Benefice at 10:30 on Sunday 21 February (in SS P&P's Wem).


LENT 


I came across the following in an address, to mark the beginning of Lent, by of the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral


"Lent is sometimes called a season of joyful sadness – yes because of regret for the mess-ups, time-wasting, pettiness and sin that disfigures our lives and that of the church but more importantly joyful because God’s love not only shows us the truth about ourselves but also draws us deep into the way his will might be done in us, and what we might amount to if we make our home in him."


If you are wondering how you might keep Lent then our diocesan website has created a very accessible weekly resource.   Each week is laid out in the same way, beginning with a very brief introduction to a topic, some suggested Bible passages, questions to prompt reflection and further resources should you wish to continue engaging with the topic.  This very much meets our common call to the 'observance of a holy Lent' and mirrors +Michael's hope  "that people will engage in a fresh encounter with the guidance and challenge of the scriptures as they relate to contemporary issues" .  To see our diocesan material click here, it couldn't be easier.


A reminder for those joining that the Lent discussion group will begin meeting this Tuesday at 19:30.


BENEFICE MAGAZINE


Guess what.......it's that time again (but Feb is a shorter month!) to ask for inputs of whatever style and flavour into our Mag - and it is our magazine and what you make it.  I know how much inputs are really appreciated across the benefice, perhaps especially in 'lockdown' throughout which iterations the magazine has positively bloomed.  So, please don't be shy - any articles, reflections, poems, reflections, snippets, news etc to myself or Pam by the end of this week at the latest please


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK


This week ends with the Lesser Festival day of George Herbert on 27th Feb.  Born into an aristocratic family, a fellow of Trinity College at 25 subsequently an MP he seemed destined for a life of ease at court.  However, he surprised all by leaving this on one side and taking ordination as his short adult life's vocation being given the care of souls for the parish of Bemerton just outside Salisbury.  Never neglecting his parishioners he wrote prolifically and was a poet of stature, we still sing some of his hymns ('King of glory; King of peace', 'Let all the world in ev'ry corner sing.').


He wrote the following simple prayer, perhaps it might guide and lighten our week?  


"Thou who hast given so much to me, give me one more thing... a grateful heart!"














.


Take care and remain safe - every good wish,


Nick 

N P Heron

Rector of Wem, Lee Brockhurst and Weston-under-Redcastle

01939 232550