Daily Reflections 
- keeping in touch 
Please see our Latest News and Services pages for details of church services and recorded services. 
 
We continue praying for everyone and providing as much support as we can during these difficult times. As part of that the Vicar, Rev Frank Gimson, is sharing Bible passages and some thoughts on a regular basis. These will be included here on the website, but if you would like to receive them in an email, please contact the Vicar either by email to fateamrector@outlook.com or by using the contact form. 
 
If you know anyone else who would like to receive them, please ask them to contact the Vicar as above. 
Sunday 22nd August 2021 
 
‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure’ (1 John 3:1-3). 
 
Today marks my final day of ministry here after 19 years - first as Priest-in-Charge of Downton and then as Team Rector of the Forest & Avon Team. So this is also my last Reflection. My final service is today - a Team Service at 10:30am at St Laurence. 
 
We will be very sorry to leave here, the Churches, the villages, the community and the many friends we have made. Thank you for all the many good wishes, cards and expressions of appreciation for our time here that we have received over these past few weeks. We have been very moved and deeply touched. We have been extremely happy here. However, we have a strong sense that it is now right for us to move on and that it is in the fullness of God’s time. Indeed I have been very aware of God’s providence in this at work in recent months. As we are assured: ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). 
 
‘It is said that we have too many churches and that many congregations are too small to be viable. . . But we are a Church and we never abandon any area, because our motivation and theology is that people are spiritual and we must be there for them. If you close some, here and there, at what point do you find that you have reduced the Church to the point that it is no longer the Church of the nation?’ (Lord Carey, 14 August). 
 
There is no recorded service from St Laurence. If you wish to join in with an online service from the Team you can find one at St Mary Redlynch or St Andrew Landford
 
The collect for today: 
Almighty and everlasting God, 
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray 
and to give more than either we desire or deserve: 
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, 
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid 
and giving us those good things 
which we are not worthy to ask 
but through the merits and mediation 
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for all organizations serving the community. Our parish prayers for each day can be found in Downton Parish News. 
 
And - in keeping with my tradition of ending on a historical fact: on 22nd August 2021 Revd Frank Gimson retired as Team Rector of the Forest and Avon Team, after 19 years in post at Downton! 
 
‘God does not give us everything we want, but he does fulfil his promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to himself’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). 
 
With all God’s blessings - and prayers for all that is yet to come, 
Frank 
Sunday 15th August 2021 
 
‘Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures’ (2 Peter 3:14-16). 
 
Peter is talking here about ‘the day of the Lord’, that great moment when God brings all things to his final completion. If we, as Christians, do indeed long for that day, how then should we live? We should live in a state of preparation, Peter tells us. We should be motivated by the idea of how Christ will find us when he returns. So Peter writes that we should take on the tasks of being found spotless, blameless, and at peace with God. However we must be careful here. As Peter himself has made clear, God has already made his people holy through faith in Christ. All believers have peace with God in Christ, and he views us - in Christ - as spotless and blameless. Eternal salvation is not something we work for or earn. 
 
‘A key strategic objective of the new vision for the Church of England in the 2020s is to be a Church of “missionary disciples”. This is loaded language that hides preconceptions about the nature of Christian identity, belonging, and purpose which not all will share, regardless of church tradition. Thankfully, the new vision for the C of E has yet to filter down to many parishes; for the language that we are using is in grave danger of alienating the very foundations of our parochial life: the core of churchgoers who sustain our common life, week in, week out’ (Church Times 13 August 2021). 
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. This is my last recorded service - although not my last Sunday here. 
 
Also at 10:30am we are having a service of Morning Prayer in Church. You do not have to reserve a seat but will be asked to sign in, and other guidance remains in place for the time being. We are hoping that there will be singing in the churchyard both before and at the end of the service. 
 
Next Sunday, 22nd August, is my last day here as your Team Rector. There will be a Team Service in St Laurence at 10:30am. To be honest, despite several farewells already and a whole host of thing I have needed to do to prepare, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. 
 
The collect for today: 
O God, you declare your almighty power 
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: 
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, 
that we, running the way of your commandments, 
may receive your gracious promises, 
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for our sidespeople and lesson readers. Prayers for the rest of the week can be found in Downton Parish News
 
On 15th August 1914 the Panama Canal was opened to traffic, more than three decades after the first attempt to build the canal had begun. It remains the greatest engineering feat yet attempted. 
Sunday 8th August 2021 
 
‘I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together’ (Psalm 34:1-3). 
 
Tuesday will be the Feast of St Laurence, our Church’s dedication festival. We celebrate the life and witness of our Church as we remember Laurence’s faith and commitment to the principles of the gospel. “(St Laurence) loved Christ in his life, he imitated Him in his death… After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating His example… Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to” (From a sermon delivered by St. Augustine in about 400 AD on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Laurence). 
 
‘A campaign to elect members to the General Synod under a “Save the Parish” banner was launched in London on Tuesday evening, with a warning that this was “the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1000 years”. The move was welcomed by a Church of England spokesman. In his remarks at the campaign launch.. the Revd Marcus Walker, spoke of the need for a “co-ordinated campaign” that would unite Anglicans across traditions, transcending debates about women’s ordination and same-sex marriage. A keynote speech was delivered by the Revd Dr Alison Milbank, Canon Theologian of Southwell Minster, who drew on the book that she co-wrote with Canon Andrew Davison, For the Parish (SCM Press).. She argued that, since the 2004 report Mission-shaped Church, “the Church of England has totally capitulated to market values and managerialism... There has been a tendency to view the parish like some inherited embarrassing knick-knack from a great-aunt that you wish were in the attic.” The pandemic had been “an opportunity to expedite further the demise of traditional church”, she feared’ (Church Times 4 August 2021). 
 
‘I find myself wondering how the Jesus who loved and blazed his way into those first followers’ lives comes to be described today in a way which is worthy, saintly and slightly bland. To follow him through Galilee and beyond must have involved beauty, thrill and danger. Like fireworks! It’s a challenge to those of us who have the opportunity to speak of Jesus, either in private conversation or in public address, to portray him with the energy that once captivated a group of workmen so completely that they staked everything on going with him’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 3 August 2021). 
 
There is no recorded service for today from St Laurence. If you wish to join in with an online service from the Team you can find one at St Mary Redlynch or St Andrew Landford. As I said last week, my last recorded service will be next Sunday, 15th August. 
 
At 10:30am we are having a service of Holy Communion in Church. You do not have to reserve a seat but will be asked to sign in, and other guidance remains in place for the time being. We are hoping that we can sing in the churchyard both before and at the end of the service - although the weather doesn’t seem promising at the moment! 
 
The collect for today: 
Let your merciful ears, O Lord, 
be open to the prayers of your humble servants; 
and that they may obtain their petitions 
make them to ask such things as shall please you; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for peace in the world. Prayers for the rest of the week can be found in Downton Parish News. 
 
On 8th August 1945 President Harry S. Truman signed the United Nations Charter, and the United States became the first nation to complete the ratification process and join the new international organization. 
Sunday 1st August 2021 
 
Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:32-35). 
 
Thank you to all who wished Hannah and Dan well on Friday and to those who helped with the service and came to support them before or afterwards. It was a truly wonderful and uplifting occasion and a great and joyful day for us all - and also very tiring. Now all we have to worry about is my retirement in three weeks’ time and then moving to our new house in Suffolk! 
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. Please note that my next recorded service will also be my last one from St Laurence - on 15th August. 
 
At 10:30am on Sunday we are having a service of Holy Communion in Church. You no longer have to reserve a seat but will be asked to sign in, and other guidance remains in place for the time being. We are hoping that we can sing in the churchyard both before and at the end of the service. 
 
‘Our worship and our work on behalf of those who are vulnerable or poor are not alternatives. Both are imperative as expressions of our relationship with God. Apathy about suffering in our world or in our nation is incompatible with a Christian faith. It renders all we believe about Jesus meaningless’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer on James 2:14-end, 27 July 2021). 
 
The collect for today: 
Almighty God, 
who sent your Holy Spirit 
to be the life and light of your Church: 
open our hearts to the riches of your grace, 
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit 
in love and joy and peace; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for the grace to share our faith. Prayers for the rest of the week can be found in Downton Parish News
 
‘Unfortunate typo when instead of thanking a Churchwarden for their continued ministry typed thanks for their continued misery!’ (The Revd Barry Hill). 
 
The 1936 Summer Olympics opened in Berlin on 1st August. The efforts by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to demonstrate the superiority of the “Aryan race” were undermined by the success of African American athletes, notably Jesse Owens. However, Owens received no telegram of congratulations for his record-breaking haul of medals from President Franklin D Roosevelt. On his return, there was no invitation to the White House to shake hands with the President. That honour was reserved for white Olympians. Owens even had to attend a non-presidential reception in his honour with his mother at the Waldorf Astoria using the goods lift. 
Wednesday 28th July 2021 
 
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it’ (Matthew 13:44-46). 
 
On a personal note, our daughter Hannah is getting married to Daniel in St Laurence at noon on Friday. We are all looking forward it and we wish God’s blessing on them both on the day and in their life together. Hannah would really like you to see her and Dan on the day after the service (about 12:45pm) while the photographs are being taken. As a family, we had hoped originally hoped to invite all from the Church to the ceremony, but very much regret that this is not possible under the present circumstances. We thank you for your love and understanding. 
 
‘Christian groups have marked 100 days until the UK hosts the COP26 climate-change summit by calling for the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to show more leadership on the issue. With record-breaking heatwaves in North America, extreme flooding in Europe, China, and London, and a hunger crisis in parts of Africa, the ongoing climate crisis has highlighted the need for action at the UN summit taking place in Glasgow this November. On Friday, campaigners took to Parliament Square, outside the Palace of Westminster, to ask what had happened to UK leadership, with just months until world leaders visit UK shores. The CEO of Christian Aid, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, said that COP26 was the biggest diplomatic event taking place on British soil since the Second World War: “…COP26 needs to deliver the long-promised climate finance for the world’s poorest people, a proper process for addressing the permanent loss and damage caused by the climate emergency, and much more urgent emissions reductions to put us on track to limit global heating to 1.5C. There’s still time, but it’s running out, and we need to see the occupants of Downing Street putting their shoulder to the wheel to make COP26 the success it needs to be”’ (Church Times 27 July 2021). 
 
‘The effect of the current government proposals on legacy is to prevent too much prying into dark corners of a dirty war. That will protect reputations but will not help the hurting ones for whom Jesus was most concerned. A system that appears to prioritise the feelings of the perpetrators over the distress of the victims is guaranteed only to perpetuate the pain, not draw a line under it’ (Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty Lord and everlasting God, 
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern 
both our hearts and bodies 
in the ways of your laws 
and the works of your commandments; 
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, 
we may be preserved in body and soul; 
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. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning. I shall ring the bell at 10:30am and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. The Church will open for private prayer from 11am to 12pm. On Sunday at 10:30am we will be having a service of Holy Communion in Church. You will no longer have to reserve a seat but will be asked to sign in and other guidance remains in place for the time being. 
 
I remind you that I will be reducing these Reflections to just one a week - on a Sunday. So this will be my last Wednesday Reflection. This will mean also that I shall not be producing the simple order for Morning Prayer on a Wednesday. If you wish to continue to follow Morning Prayer in this way, you can find a rather fuller version here. Also I attach a Roads to God sheet for use throughout the year. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for all who rely on food aid. As we know this is will be a particular problem for families over the school holidays. There is no Reflection on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Thursday we pray for our community life. On Friday we pray for all in Residential and Nursing Homes, and on Saturday we pray for young people in the village, especially at this time of change for many of them. 
 
On 28th July 2005 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced that it had ended its armed campaign and instead would pursue only peaceful means to achieve its objectives. 
Sunday 25th July 2021 
 
‘Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen’ (1 Peter 4:8-11). 
 
Today is the Feast of Saint James the Apostle, who is also known as James the Great. He is called ‘the Great’ so as to distinguish him from the two other important Jameses who appear in the New Testament. James was the son of Zebedee, and the brother of John the Evangelist. Together with his father and brother, he was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. James and John, together with Peter, appear to have constituted a sort of privileged inner group amongst disciples - the three of them alone being with Jesus both at his Transfiguration, and then in the garden of Gethsemane at the beginning of our Lord’s passion. 
 
‘A new free app offering a conversation game has been launched by Sanctuary UK, to help address anxieties about the lifting of lockdown restrictions. The game, “Together Again”, offers a series of questions and conversation-prompts to help users to discuss challenges experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, anxieties about emerging from lockdown, and hopes for the future’ (Church Times 23 July 2021). 
 
‘It is true that we have been overtaken by very rapid social change in which we can expect the Holy Spirit to reshape the Church. As an era in which, perhaps, we felt too much at home passes away, it is right to look expectantly for the living forms that Jesus and his Church will take in the Christian centuries to come. But alongside this proper expectancy, there is an insidious temptation to believe that we can abbreviate the birth pangs of the new age by drastic surgery when we really don’t have the spiritual insight to understand what we are doing’ Richard Chartres, former Bishop of London). 
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. Also at 10:30am we are having a service of Holy Communion in Church. We are hoping that we can sing in the churchyard before the service. 
 
The collect for today: 
Merciful God, 
whose holy apostle Saint James, 
leaving his father and all that he had, 
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ 
and followed him even to death: 
help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world, 
to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for our Bellringers. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Monday we pray for the bereaved. On Tuesday we pray for all visitors to our Churches. 
 
On 25th July 25 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces. 
Wednesday 21st July 2021 
 
‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live’ (Ezekiel 18:30-32). 
 
It was a joy to hear the bells back again on Sunday summoning us to worship - and we look forward to them ringing out once more with restrictions now eased. 
 
Tomorrow is the end of the school year here. We pray for all the pupils and staff - for rest, refreshment and renewal after a long and difficult year. There will be a Leavers’ Service for all our Year 6 pupils who are moving on to Secondary School in September. It will be in School this year because of the Covid restrictions. On behalf of the Church, I will give each of the leavers a Bible to take with them on their journey forward and we pray for God’s blessing on them all. 
 
‘The charities Tearfund and Alpha UK have released a series of short films to tell inspiring pandemic stories from churches around the world. Each of the five films in the “Reactivate” series for showing in churches highlights the community response of churches over 16 months of lockdowns, including distributing sanitary products and food, and offering mental-health support… Church leaders interested in showing the film series can download these and other resources for free at www.tearfund.org/reactivate. Donations are encouraged to the charity’s Recover Together appeal: www.tearfund.org/recover’ (Church Times 16 July 2021). 
 
On Sunday at 10:30am we will be having a service of Holy Communion in Church. I remind you that if you wish to come - and you are welcome to do so - please let Jo Parsons (parsons.jo@hotmail.co.uk, 01725 512738) know. It is important to do this each time - even if you plan to come every week. 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Generous God, 
you give us gifts and make them grow: 
though our faith is small as mustard seed, 
make it grow to your glory 
and the flourishing of your kingdom; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning, together with our Roads to God prayers. I shall ring the bell at 10:30am and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. The Church will open for private prayer from 11am to 12pm. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for our Parochial Church Council (PCC). There is no Reflection on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow (Thursday) is the Feast of St Mary Magdalene and in our Parish Prayer Diary we pray that we may learn God’s forgiveness. On Friday we pray for our Church flower arrangers, and on Saturday we pray that we may grow through God’s Word. 
 
‘What we are experiencing in terms of a shortfall, a serious shortfall, in most of our dioceses is not just about finance. I want to underline that what we are seeing actually reflects a spiritual crisis’ (Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover). 
 
On 21st July 1960 Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first woman prime minister when she took office in Ceylon (later Sri Lanka). 
Sunday 18th July 2021 
 
‘Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called - that you might inherit a blessing’ (1 Peter 3:8-9). 
 
So the Covid rules are changing as from tomorrow. ‘Congregational singing and the common cup at the eucharist will be allowed in England once again from Monday, church authorities have confirmed, despite the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. It will be up to clergy and PCCs to decide whether to retain precautions such as face coverings, social distancing, and communion in one kind’ (Church Times 16 July 2021). It is not as easy as that though. We must be sensitive - to balance the hopes and fears both of those who want more freedom and the needs and concerns of those who may wish to continue to distance themselves and avoid physical contact. 
 
We will be considering how we will approach this here over the coming week - bearing in mind the words of the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who heads the Church’s Covid recovery group: “This is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up, and long Covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore our approach needs to be cautious and careful.” 
 
Looking ahead, with my retirement now only a few weeks away, I will be reducing these Reflections to just one a week - on a Sunday - from the beginning of August. This will mean also that I shall not be producing the simple order for Morning Prayer on a Wednesday. If you wish to continue to follow Morning Prayer in this way, you can find a rather fuller version here
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church on the website. There is a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. Also at 10:30am we are having a service of Morning Prayer in Church. If you wish to come - and all are very welcome - please let Jo Parsons know, either by email or phone. It is important to do this each time even if you plan to come every week. We are hoping that we can sing in the churchyard before the service. 
 
The collect for this week: 
Lord of all power and might, 
the author and giver of all good things: 
graft in our hearts the love of your name, 
increase in us true religion, 
nourish us with all goodness, 
and of your great mercy keep us in the same; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for the Trafalgar School at Downton. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Monday we pray for all politicians and their advisors. On Tuesday we pray for all ministers in the village. 
 
‘Theology matters. Yes, we need priests who can lead well, embracing diversity, navigating change wisely, and setting a healthy safeguarding culture; yes, we need priests who can see missional potential in the familiar and the new; yes, we need priests who know themselves well, and can handle power with wisdom and accountability... But what we most deeply need are priests who know God well’ Philip Plyming, Warden, Cranmer Hall Theological College). 
 
On 18th June 64AD the great fire of Rome broke out which destroyed much of the city. Despite the well-known stories, there is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, either started the fire or played the fiddle while it burned. Still, he did use the disaster to further his political agenda. 
Wednesday 14th July 2021 
 
‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits - who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s’ (Psalm 103:1-5). 
 
It is always good to recount the blessings of the Lord in our lives. In an age when we are encouraged to put our wants first, we remember that God blesses us far more than we can desire or deserve. 
 
As we all know, it has been announced that on Monday we will move to ‘Phase 4’ and the lifting of most of the pandemic restrictions. What we don’t know yet is exactly what this will mean for us, or what guidelines will be given by the Church of England. I suspect that much will be left to local decision making, which for us means the PCC. Let us pray for wisdom, discernment and a generosity of spirit as we seek the right way forward. 
 
‘9th July 2021 was the tenth anniversary of the founding of South Sudan, the world’s youngest country as an independent state, after 22 years of civil war and a further six years of negotiation. The anniversary is also marked with a warning from its churches that the country must “stop the self-sabotage of our collective future and prosperity.” The South Sudan Council of Churches said: “On this day ten years ago, we expected a new ray of hope, optimism and reign of sustainable peace with prosperity. However, those jubilations and celebrations were short-lived as the nation in just a span of two years descended into violent conflicts that have devastated all aspects of South Sudanese lives. “Painfully, millions of our citizens, who were hopeful and jubilant on this day ten years ago, were suddenly impoverished, made hopeless and reduced to extreme dependence on humanitarian assistance. In this second decade, we must stop the self-sabotage of our collective future and prosperity. We must reflect on what went wrong in the first decade after independence, learn from those experiences and rise to the collective responsibility of this generation to deliver our country from its current predicaments. Never again shall our people be merciless victims of our own hands!”’ (Diocese of Salisbury Grapevine 9 July 2021). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Creator God, 
you made us all in your image: 
may we discern you in all that we see, 
and serve you in all that we do; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning. I shall ring the bell at 10:30am and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. The Church will open for private prayer from 11am to 12pm. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for all school governors, especially those for our Church School here. There is no Reflection on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Thursday we pray for our sidespeople and lesson readers. On Friday we pray for our organist and choir, as we look forward to singing in church again, and on Saturday we pray for our Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs). 
 
On Sunday at 10:30am we will be having a service of Morning Prayer in Church. I remind you that if you wish to come - and you are welcome to do so - please let Jo Parsons (parsons.jo@hotmail.co.uk, 01725 512738) know. It is important to do this each time - even if you plan to come every week. 
 
On 15th July 1965 Mariner 4, an uncrewed space probe launched by NASA in 1964, flew by Mars and returned close-up pictures of its surface. The pictures proved that the planet's rumoured canals were actually illusions - much to the disappointment of those who had hoped for evidence of intelligent life on the planet. 
Sunday 11th July 2021 
 
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us’ (Ephesians 1:3-8). 
 
Such a passage provokes from us a heartfelt Amen! - Amen, Lord, Amen! God has indeed been good to us! We rejoice in all God’s blessings and grace so freely poured out upon us and add our own praises to those of Paul. 
 
‘‘Amen’ is one of the very few Hebrew words to have leapfrogged untranslated from ancient Israel to the present day... As a child I was taught it meant ‘so be it’. That weak phrase shows why it’s best left untranslated. Amen’s origin in Hebrew is in a verb meaning ‘to support’ or ‘to make firm’. Amen conveys reliability and truth. In his teaching in the Gospels, Jesus frequently uses Amen at the beginning of his most important sayings. Perhaps it’s because we are so used to Amen at the end of prayers that, when Jesus says it, we do translate it as ‘truly’ or ‘verily’. It would be better left untranslated there too.. Jesus is the Amen of God, in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled - firmly, reliably, truly. Amen to that’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 6 July 2021). 
 
There is no recorded service for today from St Laurence. If you wish to join in with an online service from the Team you can find one at St Mary Redlynch or St Andrew Landford
 
At 10:30am we are having a service of Holy Communion in Church. If you wish to come - and all are very welcome - please let Jo Parsons know, either by email or phone. It is important to do this each time even if you plan to come every week. We are hoping - weather permitting - that we can sing in the churchyard before the service. 
 
The collect for this week: 
Merciful God, 
you have prepared for those who love you 
such good things as pass our understanding: 
pour into our hearts such love toward you 
that we, loving you in all things and above all things, 
may obtain your promises, 
which exceed all that we can desire; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for all key workers. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Monday we pray for all volunteers helping others. On Tuesday we pray for peace in the world. 
 
As today is also the Feast of St Benedict, we pray for those who are called to the religious life, giving thanks for all that they bring to the life of the Church. 
 
On 11th July 1905 members of the Niagara Movement met for the first time on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. This all-African American group of scholars, lawyers and businessmen came together for three days to create what would soon become a powerful post-slavery Black rights organization. Although it only lasted five years, the Niagara Movement was an influential precursor to the mid-20th Century civil rights movement. 
Wednesday 7th July 2021 
 
‘But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence’ (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). 
 
What a glorious image Paul offers us here. For the Romans a triumph was a public and solemn honour conferred by them on a victorious general, by allowing him a magnificent procession through the city - with sacrifice, clouds of incense and probably public feasting. All this would have been familiar to Paul’s first readers - and here he proclaims God, as the author of all that is good, causes us always to triumph in Christ. Christ not only gives us the victory but enables us to share in his great victory - as we bring the good news of salvation to all. 
 
Paul reminds us that our triumph is in Christ, and to Christ he gives all the glory; our sacrifice is that of thanksgiving to the Lord; and the incense offered causes the savour of the knowledge of Christ to be manifested in every place. As the smoke of the incense offered on such an occasion would fill the whole city with its perfume, so the odour of the name and doctrine of Christ surrounds us as we proclaim him publicly as Lord. 
 
‘There are those conservative people who are always looking for a ditch to die in and who have chosen this one this time. Divorce, contraception, the place of women in ministry - all these are now yesterday’s battles, though they were all the last ditch in their time. And now in our time to hear some talk you would think that sexuality in general, and same-sex relationships in particular, is the line that somehow God has always wanted us to draw in the sand so that the faithful and Godly may be identified, and the faithless and Godless may be condemned and paralysed from action and if necessary excluded’ (Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool). 
 
On Sunday at 10:30am we will be having a service of Holy Communion in Church. I remind you that if you wish to come - and you are welcome to do so - please let either Jo Parsons (parsons.jo@hotmail.co.uk, 01725 512738) or myself know. It is important to do this each time - even if you plan to come every week. 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Almighty God, 
send down upon your Church 
the riches of your Spirit, 
and kindle in all who minister the gospel 
your countless gifts of grace; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I shall be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning. I shall ring the bell at 10:30am and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. The Church will open for private prayer from 11am to 12pm. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for our Team Rector and family. Thank you - we greatly appreciate your prayers in our last few weeks here and as we prepare to move and start a new phase in our life and ministry. There is no Reflection on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Thursday we pray for the elderly and housebound. We pray for all for whom the lifting of lockdown rules will bring greater opportunities for personal contact - and remember especially those who are concerned about the risks involved. On Friday we pray for those being baptised, particularly all who have had baptisms delayed this past year, and on Saturday we pray for our Church School - especially those moving on to secondary education in September and all who will be starting school for the first time. 
 
On 7th July 1928, in Chillicothe Missouri, pre-sliced bread first went on sale. The loaves, baked by a local company, were cut using a machine designed by Otto Rohwedder. The first bread was made in Neolithic times, nearly 12,000 years ago. 
Sunday 4th July 2021 
 
‘To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us’ (Psalm 123:1-2). 
 
The Lord our God is enthroned in heaven, and Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. So we know that we have an advocate with the Father. We look to the Lord in heaven, our God and our King. Our help is in heaven at the throne of God. We can look into heaven to the throne of God, because Jesus has opened the way for us. We do not look to this earth for answers. We look to heaven and the Lord - to his way, for his strength and in his love. 
 
Bishop Nicholas has written his final Ad Clerum as Bishop of Salisbury, reflecting on ten years of ministry and eventful times, giving thanks for colleagues and for his time here: ‘We have enjoyed being here, are grateful for any good we have been able to do and sorry for what we have got wrong or could have done but failed to do. Now it is time to give it all to God with thanksgiving, particularly for the ways in which we have shared with you in ministry and mission in service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ… I will give the oversight and care of the Diocese to Bishop Karen. Pray for her and support her in the ministry she will exercise until the next Bishop has been appointed. Pray also for the members of the Crown Nominations Committee as they seek the next Bishop of Salisbury. In August Helen and I will be moving to Brighton, to a flat looking out to sea. Please continue to pray for us as we will for you. We will thank God when we remember you. And finally, I love this short prayer of Dag Hammarskjöld: For all that has been, thanks. To all that will be, yes. Amen to that and may God continue to bless you abundantly, +Nicholas Sarum’. 
 
‘The establishment of 10,000 new, predominantly lay-led churches in the next ten years is among the ambitious targets that will be discussed at the General Synod this month when the Archbishop of York, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, delivers an update on the Vision and Strategy discussions announced last year (News, 26 November 2020). It is one of six outcomes set out in a briefing paper, published last week, which also envisages the doubling of the number of children and “young active disciples” in the C of E by 2030. More detail about the 10,000 was provided at last week’s MultiplyX 2021 church-planting conference, held online by the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication, which is led by the Bishop of Islington, the Rt Revd Ric Thorpe. The initiative has been given the title “Myriad”, and is led by Canon John McGinley, the head of church-planting development at New Wine and a priest in the diocese of Leicester’ (Church Times 2 July 2021). 
 
The 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. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
There is a recorded service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. Also at 10:30am we are having a service of Holy Communion in Church. If you wish to come - and all are very welcome - please let Jo Parsons know, either by email or phone. It is important to do this each time even if you plan to come every week. We are hoping that we can sing in the churchyard before the service. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary today we pray for our Forest and Avon Team. Please pray especially for those who will be responsible for and planning the future direction of ministry here in the Team. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary on Monday we pray for those unable to find work. On Tuesday we pray for all getting married this year. We have had two weddings so far here in St Laurence and there are six more between now and October. 
 
On 4th July 1865 Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published, although the first print run was soon recalled because of quality issues. 
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