Shepton Mallet Benefice and the Coronavirus (covid-19)
A letter from Jonathan
Our recent service for Sunday 21st February was live-streamed at 11.00.
You can watch the service now on our YouTube channel or by clicking in the player below.
Dear Church Family
As you no doubt know, the duration of Lent mirrors the time Jesus spent in the desert after His Baptism and before His public ministry began. See Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13 or, for those of you who love brevity, Mark 1:12-13! There, weak and vulnerable, at the end of Himself physically, the devil came to tempt Him. The devil’s plan was to cause Jesus to be unfaithful to God His Father and thus render Him unable to bring salvation to humanity.
Throughout the confrontation, Jesus doesn’t use any supernatural power to resist the devil, rather Jesus responded to each of the three temptations by quoting God’s word. The power of God’s word lies in its truth. Just think, the true, trustworthy word of God in the Bible carries such authority that it exposes even the deception of the devil himself! How should we respond to such a fact? We need not guess. Through the prophet Isaiah, God has told us: with trembling! See above.
When we read the Bible and say something like "To me it says . . . ” we are falling into a modern way of reading known as deconstructionism. Deconstructionism says that words have no real meaning in themselves, only the meaning we give to them as we read. This is very dangerous and quite different from God's ideas about His word!
The words of God cannot be broken, they cannot be set aside by some new truth, they cannot be amended by future generations as the US constitution for 'The word of the Lord stands forever.’ (Isaiah 40:8 quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 1:25.) When we approach the Bible we need to be mindful that the words we hold and read are the very words of God. We should therefore seek to understand them, accept them, trust them and submit to them. Moreover because word and Spirit are inseparable, as we receive God's word, we are being filled by the Spirit.
In this first week of Lent, ask yourself, ‘What do I believe the Bible is?’ Your answer will determine your life.
The Lord’s guidance and grace
Sunday services at St Peter and St Paul’s
Covid Pandemic update: As of Wednesday 6th January, England returned to lockdown conditions. Following much prayerful consideration, the Rector, churchwardens and PCC have decided to suspend attended services for the time being. Our pre-recorded online services will continue as before - see here for full details.
However, the church building will be open for private prayer on Sundays from 10.00 until 12.00. The church will be unattended. Strict covid regulations will still be in place for anyone visiting the church building at this time. The protocols below refer to the former attended services but largely still apply to anyone visiting the church after 6th January for Sunday private prayer.
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:
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.