Shepton Mallet Benefice and the Coronavirus (covid-19)
Returning to Sunday services at St Peter and St Paul’s
Please note that during the month of November 2020 we will not be permitted to hold Sunday services in church. The notes below may apply again when the restrictions are lifted. More details will be posted here in due course, if and when the situation changes.
This Sunday we will gather from 10:30 to watch the live-streamed service projected on the big screens. Afterwards there will be a short said service of Holy Communion ‘in one kind only’ that is, only wafers will be distributed. Our top priority is safety so things will be rather different from what we are used to. While we have put in place recommended hygiene and distancing practices, it is very important that you make an informed decision about when to return to services, taking into account any health issues and risk factors which apply to you or your family. For any who can’t attend, we’ll continue to stream services online so there is no pressure to return before you feel ready to do so.
During the service
If you or any of your household:
A letter from Jonathan
Dear Church Family
On the 26th November, America celebrated Thanksgiving. The origins of this annual holiday go back to 1619 when 38 English pilgrims and puritan settlers landed in Virginia after a perilous Atlantic crossing. Upon safe landing, they held a religious celebration as required in the charter of the London Company who sponsored the voyage. This charter required “. . . that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned . . . in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Two years later, after a really good harvest, the celebration included Native Americans, who had given food to the settlers to help them survive the previous winter. Today, the tradition involves families getting together for a meal but also to share what they are really thankful for.
This is no bad thing. As we’ve noted previously, being thankful is associated with better sleep, various health benefits and has been identified as central to being emotionally resilient. As Christians, this should come as no surprise. Time and again, the Bible encourages thankfulness to be part of our life attitude because of God the Father’s love for us in sending His one and only Son into the world to be our Saviour. This is why the Apostle Paul can say in 1 Thessalonians 5 ‘. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ As Christians, we can genuinely be thankful even when things are difficult, even in our loneliness, even when plans for Christmas go wrong.
Spiritually, being thankful to ‘Almighty God’ as those settlers were 400 years ago, fosters the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our midst for, as Paul goes on to warn in the very next verse, 'Do not quench the Spirit.’ the implication being, being unthankful to God is the way to spiritual poverty.
As I take stock at the end of the Church year and as I look forward to Advent, while I am so deeply thankful to Almighty God for Jesus, I also thank Him for all of you, my Church family. Whatever is going on in your life, however you are feeling at this time, do make time to think about what you are thankful to Almighty God for. It will bless you as you express it to Him and bless others as you share your thanks with them.
Love and Blessings
Our morning worship service for Sunday 29th November was live streamed at 11.00. You can watch it now on our YouTube channel or by clicking in the viewer below.
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.