12th July Pew Sheet - Wyre Forest West Group of Parishes


12th July Pew Sheet


Dear Friends,

 

Many people, including myself, have found not being able to worship in our church buildings very difficult – well the good news is that that we will be reopening for public worship from next Sunday 19th July! The three parochial church councils met with me (virtually) last week and there was a unanimous decision to begin services.


As we know, the virus has not disappeared so it will not be possible to immediately go back to things as they were before the lockdown. Each church has had to complete a risk assessment to see what measures they will need to adopt to keep people as safe as possible. Once these assessments have been completed, they will be posted on our website so that you can see what measures are being adopted and what has been done to prepare the buildings for opening.


The first thing to mention is that we will initially only be holding Holy Communion services as this is the type of worship which we have most been missing. As just before lockdown, I will only be permitted to distribute wafers, but as was explained before lockdown, receiving in this way (known as receiving in ‘one-kind’) is still considered as Holy Communion in full. This will mean that there will only be 6 services per month held around the benefice, but this is very much a first step and I do envisage introducing other services as soon as possible, including services on other days of the week.


The main measures that need to be in place are 2 metre social distancing, no singing, and additional cleaning, including everyone cleaning their hands with sanitising gel both on entering the church and when leaving. Most of our churches are cleaned by volunteers, many of which are in the ‘vulnerable’ category, and so to prevent us having to clean the churches before and after each service, we will continue to keep the buildings closed for 72 hours before and after each service. This will mean that our normal service rotas will need to be flexible to cater for weddings, funerals and baptisms which can now take place in our churches, so please do check where a service will be each week. We will be opening the churches for private prayer at some point in the near future but this will not be possible all-day, every-day, for the same reasons of cleaning and the need for us to maintain details of who is going into the buildings for the governments ‘track-and-trace’ regime. As soon as we have further information of opening times we will try to communicate as much as possible through the website, Facebook page, email, and notices outside the churches. Do please bear with us as everyone is doing their best under difficult circumstances and we will need to regularly review how our arrangements are working in practice.


I would like to place on record my thanks to the churchwardens, PCC members and all those that have helped clean the churches in preparation for their opening, having been locked up since the end of March there were many cobweb, dusts and spiders, not to mention bat droppings at Rock.


Although our buildings will be open, I do not want anyone to feel under any pressure to attend services. There will still be many of you that are in the ‘shielded’ or ‘particularly vulnerable’ categories, or who just feel that now is not the time to come into a confined space, whilst this virus is still around. I will continue to produce this extended ‘pew sheet’ until things get much more back to normal.


The services for the remainder of July are as follows:


19th July 9.30 am Holy Communion Bayton
26th July 9.30 a.m. Holy Communion Rock


If anyone wishes to discuss any of this with me then please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Now for some thoughts on our Gospel reading for today.


‘Why bother? What’s the use?’ Sometimes we’re tempted to give up when we seem to be getting nowhere, but we may be succeeding in areas we haven’t even noticed. The disciples who tried to spread the message of Jesus must often have felt that their preaching was completely futile. The purpose of the parable of the Sower is to say, ‘Don’t give up. If only one person heard the message, their life may have been changed by what you said’

 

One of William Barclay's friends tells this story. In the church where he worshiped there was a lonely old man, old Thomas. He had outlived all his friends and hardly anyone knew him. When Thomas died, this friend had the feeling that there would be no one to go to the funeral so he decided to go, so that there might be someone to follow the old man to his last resting-place.


There was no one else, and it was a miserable wet day. The funeral reached the cemetery, and at the gate there was a soldier waiting. An officer, but on his raincoat, there were no badges of rank. He came to the graveside for the ceremony, then when it was over, he stepped forward and before the open grave swept his hand to a salute that might have been given to a king. The friend walked away with this soldier, and as they walked, the wind blew the soldier's raincoat open to reveal the shoulder badges of a brigadier general.


The general said, "You will perhaps be wondering what I am doing here. Well, years ago Thomas was my Sunday School teacher; I was a wild lad and a sore trial to him. He never knew what he did for me, but I owe everything I am, or will be, to old Thomas, and today I had to come to salute him at the end." Thomas did not know what he was doing.


No preacher or teacher ever does. Keep sowing the seed. We can leave the rest to God, including keeping the fire going. And that is GOOD news for all us.


Maybe there was a farmer at work close to where Jesus was sitting, and Jesus pointed to what he was doing. The usual way of sowing seed in those days was for a peasant to carry a bag or basket of seed with him, perhaps of wheat, and throw it out a handful at a time in a wide arc as he walked through his field – ‘sowing’ broadcast’, they called it. Some of the seed may not have germinated – it depended on the type of soil. Other seeds sprouted all right, but the young plants never grew to maturity. But some of the seeds grew into plants with large ears of wheat grain. There would be some for next year’s seed corn, some to bake bread for the farmer and his family, and some to sell in the market to pay for the other necessities of life. Some of the seed was wasted, and that was a shame; but enough grew to make the farmer’s work worthwhile.


This parable appears in Mark’s gospel and Luke’s. In his it is explained like this: ‘The seed is the word of God.’ Each type of soil symbolizes different types of listener. We should ask ourselves, ‘What type of soil am I?’ The first type is the hard-trodden soil of the path beside the field. No seed can sink into such a surface; it just sits on top until the birds come along and eat it. This soil is like people with shut minds. ‘I know what I think,’ they say, ‘don’t confuse we with new ideas.’ So, they never hear the news that God loves them because they are unwilling to change.


When we hear the phrase ‘rocky ground’, we think of soil full of stones. But that’s not what the parable means. On the limestone hills of the Holy Land, you often find a layer of bedrock so close to the surface that there’s only a thin layer of soil over it. The rock holds the heat of the sun, so the seeds germinate quickly. Yet the soil holds no moisture, so the plants are rootless, and wither almost as soon as they come up. This represents the shallow people who’re always full of enthusiasm for the latest new craze; they’re briefly religious, perhaps even more so than people who have been for years and years; but they’ve got no stickability, and soon move on to something else. ‘Thorns’ stands for distractions. People with too many interests, people who want to make loads of money, or are just too busy to listen to Jesus.


But thank God, there’s some good soil, where the seed grows into a healthy plant, and produces ears heavy with thirty, sixty or a hundred grains. Now a harvest like that would be a miracle. But one new convert can tell ten friends what’s so exciting about Jesus Christ, and if each of them tells ten others, you’ve got a hundred new Christians. In no time flat. It’s not impossible. Are you a listener with a shut mind, a shallow mind, or a life full of distractions, or all of the above? Or are you good soil, one who believes, and tells others? Be careful how you hear. ‘Let anyone with ears, listen.’


The message today is not just for famers but for each of us - don’t despair, whether you’re a teacher with an unresponsive class, or a doctor who patients never listen to your advice, or a parent whose children always do the opposite of what you tell them. Or even a preacher. Not everyone is called to preach from a pulpit, but all Christians no matter who you are, are called upon to preach the Good News to those they meet. We can’t control the soil we are given but what we can, should and need to do is keep sowing.

 

Ninety-nine out of a hundred words you say may have absolutely no effect. But the hundredth! That may have results which make all the apparently wasted effort worthwhile. Listen carefully when you’re listening and talk patiently when you’re talking; and remember what Jesus said about the soil and the sower.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


Lord God, the world outside awaits us with all its troubles and uncertainties – but also with its opportunities. Send us out now, in your name, to look consciously for ways of seeing you in the world around, and to act accordingly; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.


With All my Blessings Rev Sallie

 

Bible Readings for today – 5th Sunday after Trinity


Genesis 25.19-34, Psalm 119.105-112, Romans 8.1-11, Matthew 13.1-9,18-23


Collect for this week


Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Requests for Prayer


Please continue to pray for all those who are ill, especially Annie Round, Paul Mills, Freddie Kemp, Sylvia Jenkins, Susan Godwin, Edna Mills, Jill Cockerton, Mary McGrath, Lucy Fischer, Pearl Green, Margaret Wright, Polly, Maureen Boswell and Sylvia Perkins. We also pray for all those suffering with, and affected by, Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Pray for the family and friends of all those who have recently died and for all those who mourn.


We celebrate and give thanks for the baptism of Harvey, today at Rock Church.


Intercessions


As the church of God, let us be still, and pray together.
Lord of the harvest, make us fruitful in good works. Help us to share in your salvation, and enjoy bringing in the harvest.
God you are our salvation: You are the hope of us all.


We pray for all evangelists, preachers, and pastors. We pray for those who teach in Sunday Schools and Bible groups. We remember all who go out to seek and save the lost. We are sorry for the times when we stray away from you, when we are tempted to lose hope.
God you are our salvation: You are the hope of us all.


We pray for all who have unrewarding work to do, for all whose cries fall on stony ground, for all who labour but whose fulfilment is frustrated, for all who are choked by the cares and riches of the world. We remember all who have lost hope of growing or achieving anything.
God you are our salvation: You are the hope of us all.


Help us to bring forth the fruits of your Spirit in our homes. May our homes be places where love, joy and peace abound. May we nurture the young in the ways of truth and goodness. We pray for the homeless, for those who look in hope to have a home of their own.
God you are our salvation: You are the hope of us all.


Lord, have mercy on all who have lost hope or vision. Protect all who are not at peace in themselves or at peace with those around them. We pray for all who are in sickness or adversity, for all who are tempted to give up, for all who are suffering from a breakdown, or unable to cope on their own. We pray for friends and loved ones in sickness, especially all those who have asked for our prayers. Lord, set our minds on the Spirit, on life and peace.
God you are our salvation: You are the hope of us all.

 

We give thanks that as you raised Christ from the dead you will give life to our mortal bodies. We pray for all who are renewed and refreshed in your eternal kingdom, and pray that one day we may share with them in that glory.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.