Shepton Mallet Benefice Churches
To know Jesus and to make Him known
Shepton Mallet Benefice and the Coronavirus (covid-19)
A letter from Jonathan
Dear Church Family
If you have been following the news, you may well have been checking each day to see how many cases of Covid-19 there are in the country. You may even have checked to see how many there are in Somerset. Like me, you may have checked to see the statistical impact on people in your age bracket to see the likelihood you would die if you were unfortunate enough to catch the virus. While we want to know what is going on, how it may impact those close to us and perhaps ourselves personally, these impersonal probabilities, statistics, and risk assessments can cause no little anxiety. Therefore, as well as keeping informed with the news, inform yourself about how such statistics must be viewed in light of what the Bible says about God and your life. Consider these three illuminating facts.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139 v16.
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16 v 33.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10 v 29-31.
Read these words slowly and reflect on the wonder and comfort they bring into your heart. God alone will determine when you die - nothing else - and He is loving and good! You may take a ‘calculated risk’ but God decides the outcome. You may wonder if God cares. Every time you hear the birds remember He cares for them and know He cares far more for you. The Bible assures us that we don’t actually live in a cold world governed by impersonal probabilities, statistics, and risk assessments but in a world breathtakingly ordered and loved by the Creator. This means that we can take genuine steps to protect ourselves and others according to the advice of government. And yet, at the very same time, we are comforted by the truth that we live under the wise and sovereign rule of our loving and caring God. Through this dark valley, we can genuinely live with true comfort, confidence and hope in our Father, through Jesus empowered by His Spirit.
With love in Jesus
Live Streaming of Services
Our live-streamed Sunday Worship service for Sunday 5th April 2020 went live at 11.00 to celebrate Palm Sunday. You can watch the service on our YouTube channel here or on the player below.
Our Palm Sunday Service for April 5th was live-streamed here at 11.00.
We hope you enjoyed our worship together. God Bless.
Supporting our fellowship
We are keeping a list of those who are self-isolating, along with any particular pastoral or practical needs so that we can arrange appropriate help. Morag Brown is co-ordinating this. Please let her know of any needs or changes to need as they arise.
Keeping us praying
Praying together as a family is vital. We will be sending out a weekly list of prayer needs for the whole church family and our community. Do try to set aside a time each day to pray - many of us are pausing at 8 in the mornings and evenings to do this, and knowing that others are too at the times is encouraging.
The Lord’s Prayer in the face of Coronavirus
Our father in heaven - thank you for Jesus in whom you have adopted us as your beloved children; help us remember that sickness and death will never separate us from your love, believe you will be with us through whatever lies ahead, and trust you are fully in control and perfectly good;
Hallowed be your name – we pray this crisis will result in much praise for you – that believers will be strengthened in their faith and unbelievers will recognise our human frailty and mortality and turn from sin to worship you;
Your Kingdom come – until Jesus returns to rescue us from this world of pain, as far as this virus spreads, we pray your kingdom will grow further, in the hearts of people of all nations finding in Jesus the sure hope of resurrection into your new creation, free from sickness, suffering and death to enjoy you forever;
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – Father we rejoice in your sovereign power; in your mercy, please end this crisis soon, deliver us and all your people through this crisis, and may your gracious plans to save the lost be advanced by this season of humbling;
Give us this day our daily bread – thank you for dedicated doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, for our government and its advisors - please grant them the wisdom and endurance they need; sustain us with the daily bread of Christ crucified for our sins, in the living bread of your Word; reassure us when we’re anxious, heal us when we’re sick, strengthen us when we must die, comfort us in our bereavement, and embolden us to share the gospel of Jesus, the living bread we all need;
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us – have mercy where we have presumed upon our health, forgotten our frailty, or neglected to thank you for your daily care and protection; forgive us because Christ died for our sins, count us acceptable in his perfect righteousness, and in the light of your mercy, helps us show mercy to all;
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – deliver us through this time of testing – help us resist every temptation to doubt your love; help us stand firm in our faith against Satan’s lies, knowing that all over the world, your people are enduring the same kind of trials;
For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
(With thanks to Dundonald Church, London SW19)
Call to Prayer
The Archbishops have called for a National Day of Prayer and Action in Sunday 22nd March. We are asked to light a candle in the windows of our homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ. Just don’t set your curtains on fire!
Prayer Diary for March
It would be wonderful if we could all use this during our time apart from each other, perhaps in the morning, or in the evening. Corporate prayer is good.
Download the next Lent Talk with Matthew Dawkins
Number 3 ‘God’s Big Story - Time and Space’
Our Lent Talks this year have been focusing on "God's Big Story”. In this final session Time and Space Matthew explores how God’s Big Story is given further context by other events and locations.