Monday, August 31, 2020

Scarecrow pictures

 Great scarecrows, as ever, Seal! There's a map and some questions to answer in the post below if you want to find them for yourself.

















Scarecrow trail

We've had 14 entries for our Scarecrow trail this year. Can you find them. Some of them are on the map below, but we had some late entries which aren't on it, so you may find more! Below you'll find some questions to answer as you go round.
Scarecrow Trail 2020
The questions are in no particular order, feel free to take any route around the village. Please be aware of traffic at all times and cross any roads safely. We have 11 scarecrows as of Thursday evening.
1. The Fantastic Mr Fox is having a cheeky rest at the bottom of Middle lane, how many brass buttons on his waistcoat. Who wrote Fantastic Mr Fox?
2. Peter Pan has come to rest on a fence in Park Lane. The profits from J M Barrie’s book supports a London Hospital, which one? Peter also has a _ _ _ feather in his cap!
3. A Modern Day Shakespeare in Church Street, what is he holding in his left hand?
4. In the high street is Flo, our superhero nurse and what a job they’ve been doing for us. What colour are her tights?
5. Mary Poppins in Childsbridge Lane, near the Sheilings is P_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P_ _ _ _ _ _ _ in E_ _ _ _ W_ _.
6. St Peter and St Paul standing near the Lychgate in the churchyard each have a symbol, what are they?
7. Sam or is it Boris? Our smallest scarecrow doesn’t like the rain, he’s on a windowsill in Jubilee Rise! He has a mouse in his hat but what sort of mini beast is on his shoe?
8. A giant is standing over a town in Childsbridge Lane near the zebra crossing, but what time is it according to the church clock?
9. In Church Farm garden, next to the church the scarecrow is holding a placard what does it say?
10. Gangster Granny also in the High Street is wearing her jewels, what colours are they?
11. A witch sits outside Coldbreaths the butchers in the High Street, her dress is decorated with a ……..

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Worship links and other news August 30

 

Dear friends

The links to our worship this week are below.
Best wishes
Revd Canon Anne Le Bas


SUNDAY WORSHIP online
Sunday worship podcasts
Morning Worship         Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)
 
Evensong                     Evensong service sheet

 
In Church
Please note – face coverings must be worn in church unless you are medically exempt.
10 am              Holy Communion
4pm                 Outdoor Church in the churchyard
6.30pm            Evensong
 
Wednesday    9.15 am           Morning Prayer
Friday             10.30 am         Friday Group on Seal Recreation Ground in groups of six, socially distanced.
 
Sunday Sept 6 in Seal Church
10 am              Holy Communion
2.30pm            Baptism
4pm                 Outdoor Church in the churchyard
6.30pm            Evensong

On Zoom this week  - email sealpandp@gmail.com for links
Zoffee – Zoom chat at 11.15 am 
 
Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am
Simple, informal worship together on Zoom.
 
Zoom Children’s Choirs:  Wed 5pm and Thurs 4pm
Fun singing sessions for children
 
Wednesday at 7.15 pm Adult Choir on Zoom
Join us to sing some favourite hymns
email philiplebas@gmail.com for link


Trinity 12
 
The Old Testament reading for today comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, a man whose name has become shorthand for someone who is moaning all the time. That’s a bit unfair, because he had plenty to moan about. Not only did he live through the destruction of his home city of Jerusalem and the exile of many of its people to Babylon, he was the one called by God to try to warn and prepare its residents for the catastrophe. It was an apparently futile effort. No one wanted to listen and he was savagely persecuted for his efforts. In this picture, by the French painter Horace Vernet (1844), Jeremiah sits amidst the ruins of Jerusalem holding a scroll in his hands which he is writing on. It may be intended to represent his prophecies, or the book of Lamentations, which is also ascribed to him, but it could be the letter (Jeremiah 29) he wrote to those who had been taken into exile, which contained powerful words of encouragement. “Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope”.

  • Have you ever struggled to give or to hear bad news?
  • Have you ever found good things in bad times?

 
All Age resources

Come along and join us at our Outdoor Church at 4pm on Sunday in the churchyard for a story and prayers for all ages. No facemasks required! What story will we hear this week…?
 
Children’s sheet from Roots on the Web
https://www.rootsontheweb.com/media/20748/30-aug-2020-childrens-sheet.pdf
 
Adult sheet from Roots on the Web
https://www.rootsontheweb.com/media/21139/liveyourfaith_108-lockdown-version_30-august.pdf
 
 
Prayer of the week

Prayer of the week - A Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola
Teach us, good Lord,
To serve thee as thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not for seek for rest;
To labour and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do thy will.
 
(St Ignatius Loyola)
 

St Ignatius Loyola by Peter Paul RubensI share this prayer with some trepidation. It was one of two we had to learn by heart at my secondary school back in the 1970’s (the other was the Lord’s Prayer, of course) It was a girl’s direct grant school with a long history of turning out young women with a sense of duty and seriousness of purpose as well as academic achievements. Our rather formidable headmistress was also a magistrate, and it sometimes showed – her disapproval was all the more searing because of the restraint with which she expressed it. You knew if you had let her down! The prayer is a stirring and inspiring one, but it can also be a bit dangerous. A wise nun to whom I used to go for spiritual advice told me she thought no one under 40 should be allowed to pray it.  There are times when we need to keep going, “not heeding the wounds” not “seeking for rest”, but to do so can be a recipe for burn out if we aren’t also “refueling” spiritually, physically and emotionally.
The prayer’s author, St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) founded the Jesuits, a Catholic religious order founded to share and defend Christian faith, often in very difficult situations. A major emphasis of the order, through the “Spiritual Exercises”, was on getting to know yourself as well as God, an important safeguard in an movement of such activist energy. Ignatius had been a soldier, who, following a bad injury at the battle of Pamplona, had discovered that the purpose he really sought in life couldn’t be found by fighting, but only by serving God. This prayer reflects the swashbuckling soldier who still, perhaps, remained in his religious life.
 
What do you think of this prayer? Does it resonate with you?
 
HYMN OF THE WEEK
This hymn, sung here at a very sprightly pace by the Exultate Singers, was written by Love Maria Willis (1824-1908), an American Unitarian, though it is thought to have been considerably altered by Samuel Longfellow, the younger brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (writer of  Hiawatha). The other piece of trivia about Love Willis is that her husband,  Frederick Willis,  had grown up in the home of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)  and is thought to have been the model for Laurie in the  novels. Trivia aside, this hymn has been an encouragement to many who have found themselves treading the “steep and rugged” pathways. Love Willis’ own path through life wasn’t easy. By the time she wrote this, she had lost a sibling and three of her four cousins, all of whom had grown up under the same roof and her father, who died in an accident when she was six. She and her family were ardent campaigners for the abolition of slavery, and this hymn, written originally as a poem in 1859, was composed just before the carnage of the American Civil war.
The hymn isn’t just a call to courage, however. It reminds us that we don’t have to rely on our own strength, but have a faithful guide and strength. In verse 3 Willis alludes to a story from the Old Testament book of Exodus. The Hebrew slaves, freed from Egypt, were wandering in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They were in despair because there was no water and complained at Moses that he had brought them out into the desert to die. God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff, and water gushed out. (Exodus 17)
 

1 Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength that we may ever
live our lives courageously.
 
2 Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.
 
3 Not for ever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.
 
4 Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our guide;
through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.


SCARECROW TRAIL
Barbara Martin and Janetta Critcher have put together a SCARECROW TRAIL around the village, and a quiz about the scarecrows whose makers have asked for them to be included. You can find it below. Why not have a stroll around and see how many you can find? If you have missed the deadline for the trail, but still want to make a scarecrow, please do – and send us a photo to share on the church’s social media - I will be including as many photos as I can in this newsletter next week. There aren’t any prizes this year – it is just a way of helping to cheer up the village as we approach autumn, and we need all the cheering up we can get!
 
Scarecrow Trail 2020
 
The questions are in no particular order, feel free to take any route around the village. Please be aware of traffic at all times and cross any roads safely.  We have 11 scarecrows as of Thursday evening.
 
  1. The Fantastic Mr Fox is having a cheeky rest at the bottom of Middle lane, how many brass buttons on his waistcoat.  Who wrote Fantastic Mr Fox?
  2. Peter Pan has come to rest on a fence in Park Lane.  The profits from J M Barrie’s book supports a London Hospital, which one?  Peter also has a _ _ _ feather in his cap!
  3. A Modern Day Shakespeare in Church Street, what is he holding in his left hand?
  4. In the high street is Flo, our superhero nurse and what a job they’ve been doing for us.  What colour are her tights?
  5. Mary Poppins in Childsbridge Lane, near the Sheilings  is P_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P_ _ _ _ _ _ _ in E_ _ _ _ W_ _.
  6.  St Peter and St Paul standing near the Lychgate in the churchyard each have a symbol, what are they?
  7. Sam or is it Boris? Our smallest scarecrow doesn’t like the rain, he’s on a windowsill in Jubilee Rise! He has a mouse in his hat but what sort of mini beast is on his shoe?
  8.            A giant is standing over a town in  Childsbridge Lane near the zebra crossing, but what time is it according to the church clock?
  9.           In Church Farm garden, next to the church the scarecrow is holding a placard what does it say?
  10. Gangster Granny also in the High Street is wearing her jewels, what colours are they? 
  11. A witch sits outside Coldbreaths the butchers in the High Street, her dress is decorated with a ……..
 
GREAT LITTLE GARDEN GATHERINGS
During the summer, the Church is fund raising to help plug the financial gaps caused by this pandemic. We are looking for people to host small (maximum 6 people) garden tea/lunch/supper parties, with donations being made to the church. If you feel you could host such an event, please contact Rosemary on 01959 524914 or Chris on 01732 763585.You could also contact us by emailing sealchurchevents@gmail.com. A pack containing invitations, guidelines and a risk assessment is ready for your use. There have been several Gatherings so far – many thanks to those who have hosted them – and they seemed to go smoothly and safely, so do join in.
And finally...
Quite a few of the pieces I have shared in this slot have been evidence of people with Too Much Time on their Hands. This piece brings that close to home. My best beloved husband has been slaving away making an arrangement of the Pearl Fishers’ Duet as you have almost certainly never heard it before, for two bassoons (what else?) and a computer-generated orchestra. It kept him out of mischief for quite a while!
 
Shared with permission of both soloists, Philip Le Bas and, er, Philip Le Bas…
 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunday Worship and other news August 23

 

SUNDAY WORSHIP online
Sunday worship podcasts
Morning Worship         Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)
 
Evensong                     Evensong service sheet
 
In Church
Please note – you must wear a face covering in church unless you are exempt.

10 am              Holy Communion in church
4pm                 Outdoor Church in the churchyard 
6.30pm            Evensong in church
 
Wednesday 9.15 am   Morning Prayer
Friday 10.30 am          Friday Group on Seal Recreation Ground in groups of six, socially distanced.
 
Sunday Aug 30 in Seal Church
10 am              Holy Communion in church
4pm                 Outdoor Church
6.30pm            Evensong

On Zoom this week
Zoffee – Zoom chat at 11.15am on Sunday morning


Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am 

Zoom Children’s Choirs:  Wed 5pm and Thurs 4pm
email sealpandp@gmail.com for links

Wednesday at 7.15 pm Adult Choir on Zoom 
email philiplebas@gmail.com for link
 

Trinity 11
 
The theme which connects today’s readings is Rock, often a symbol in the Bible for all that is trustworthy and solid. God is described as a Rock in the Old Testament (Deut 32.4, 1 Samuel 2.2, Psalm 18.2) and in the New Testament, the same imagery is used of Jesus, (1 Corinthians 10.4). Stone was, and still is, an important building material in Israel; it is a stony, rocky landscape, its hills peppered with caves, natural or made by humans. The most impressive stone building that most people at the time of Jesus would have known was the Temple – Its stones represented the permanence of God’s commitment to his people, and when the Temple was destroyed, first by the Babylonians in 586 BC and then by the Romans in 70AD.  Its destruction provoked massive spiritual and political crises on both occasions, and the only accessible remaining section of wall is still a place of prayer and longing for the Jewish people, who welcome those of other faiths to pray alongside them there, as Philip and I discovered last year. The early Christians, though, saw Jesus as the Cornerstone of a new Temple, built with Living Stones, his followers. In Christ, and in the community that met in his name, God could be encountered even if the old place of encounter, that beautiful Temple in Jerusalem, was ruined.
 
Human beings have always been attracted to stones, though, imbuing them with significance. I have often laid my hands on the stone pillars in the South Aisle of Seal Church, and wondered about the masons who cut them back in the 13th century, the pilgrims who carved crosses into them and all those worshippers who have touched them since. It is no wonder that the sheer longevity of stone reminds people of the faithfulness of God!
 

  • Are there stones which are special to you? An old house? An historic monument? A natural stone feature? What is it about them which draws you to them?

 
All Age resources

 

Prayer of the week
Prayer of the week
 

Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. 
St Augustine of Hippo. (354 –430)  Confessions Book 1
 
St Augustine’s words, near the opening of his account of his life and his coming to God, have become famous – look out for them in a few weeks, embedded in the collect for Trinity 17.
They summed up his story. He had looked in many different places for the sense of peace and purpose he sought in life. He tried wine, women and song – he had a son called Adeodatus by an unnamed woman with whom he lived for fifteen years, before abandoning her. He tried various philosophies on offer in the late Roman Empire, but in the end he found what he was looking for in Christian faith, and became one of the most influential figures in the theological development of Christianity. His ideas profoundly shaped the thinking of later figures like Martin Luther, but Augustine probably also transmitted a lot of his own neurotic baggage, especially about sex, into Christian faith, and the thoughts of that abandoned mistress would be fascinating to hear! 

Augustine was born in what is now Algeria, and was educated in Carthage, a major centre of civilisation and learning on what is now the Tunisian coast. He was ethnically a member of the North African Berber people, but as North Africa was ruled by Rome, his education was steeped in the ideas of Rome and Latin was probably his first language. He later became Bishop of Hippo, in modern day Algeria (the name comes from a Carthaginian word for Harbour, and has nothing to do with the Hippopotamus!) He died during a siege of the city by the Vandal invaders from Germany. It was a time when the Roman Empire was being attacked on many fronts, and when it felt as if the Roman civilisation and way of life which had endured for almost 1000 years was crumbling fast.
Despite all this, Augustine felt that he had a sure hope in God – one of his most famous books was called “The City of God”. No human city could last forever, but the City of God was eternal.
 
HYMN OF THE WEEK
Tell out my soul
 
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
 
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
His mercy sure, from age to age the same;
His holy name, the Lord, the mighty One.
 
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by;
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
The hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
 
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
To children's children and forever more!
 

This very popular modern hymn was written in 1962 by Timothy Dudley-Smith, who has lots of local connections here, having been educated at Tonbridge School and ordained by Bishop Chavasse of Rochester.
 
Dudley-Smith went on to become Bishop of Thetford, in the Diocese of Norwich, but is best known as a prolific hymn writer, who has written over 400 hymns including, from our hymn books “Faithful vigil ended”, “Fill your hearts with joy and gladness”  - set to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and “Lord for the years”. His hymns have a great ability to express Christian truths in language which is modern enough for people to understand without being trite, a good indication that they will stand the test of time.
 
“Tell out my soul” is a paraphrase of the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise from Luke 1, spoken while she was expecting Jesus. Despite, or perhaps because of, the scandal and uncertainty that surrounded her pregnancy, she saw God in it, at work to bring justice and hope to those who had none.

 

SCARECROWS
There is still time to make your Scarecrow, if you want it to be included in the Scarecrow Trail for the Bank Holiday Weekend . Please contact Janetta on 01732 762729 or Barbara on 01732 762255. It has been agreed to have no prizes awarded this year, as there are always amazing entries, and everybody deserves a huge THANK YOU for making the effort to contribute to the festival. We will be holding a lockdown exhibition, hopefully later in the year, so please take a selfie of yourself/selves, with your scarecrow and also send to either Barbara or Janetta or email to sealchurchevents@gmail.com If you have nowhere to display your scarecrow, or you feel you are too far out of the village, please ask the local shops and businesses if they would like one outside their premises. They often like to join in, but don't have the time to make their own!
GREAT LITTLE GARDEN GATHERINGS
During the summer, the Church is fund raising to help plug the financial gaps caused by this pandemic. We are looking for people to host small (maximum 6 people) garden tea/lunch/supper parties, with donations being made to the church. If you feel you could host such an event, please contact Rosemary on 01959 524914 or Chris on 01732 763585.You could also contact us by emailing 
sealchurchevents@gmail.com. A pack containing invitations, guidelines and a risk assessment is ready for your use. There have been several Gatherings so far – many thanks to those who have hosted them – and they seemed to go smoothly and safely, so do join in.
And finally...
The rest of us really don’t have a hope of competing with the online worship which has been coming from the Dean of Canterbury’s garden. You may remember a clip I shared a while ago of his cat getting in on the scene, but last week he upped the stakes considerably, by leading Morning Prayer from the Deanery pigpen, where Clemmie the pig had just given birth to a litter of piglets. What I love is the way he doesn’t turn a hair, no matter what is happening around him, but, mind you, neither does Clemmie. The Church of England at its batty best!
mi n

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday Worship links and other news

 

SUNDAY WORSHIP online
August 16 - Trinity 10

Sunday worship podcasts
Morning Worship         Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)
 
Evensong                    Evensong service sheet
 
From this Sunday onwards, I will be using the same readings and hymns for morning and evening services, to simplify the work of producing the podcasts. I hope you will understand the need to reduce my workload a bit, so that I can maintain the online “offering” alongside the three services each Sunday in the church and churchyard each Sunday! It will mean, however that I will also be able to include the sermon in the Evensong podcast.
 
In Seal Church
Please note – face coverings are mandatory in church unless you are exempt.

10 am              Holy Communion in church
4pm                 Outdoor Church in the churchyard (weather permitting - this is currently going ahead today,  but the ground is very wet, so you may want to bring something to sit on!)
6.30pm            Breathing Space Holy Communion in church
 
Monday 11 am             Private funeral: Kathleen Johnson

Wednesday 9.15 am   Morning Prayer

Friday 10.30 am          Friday Group on Seal Recreation Ground in groups of six, socially distanced.

 
Sunday Aug 23 in Seal Church
10 am              Holy Communion in church
4pm                 Outdoor Church
6.30pm            Evensong

On Zoom this week
Zoffee – Zoom chat at 11.15 am (note the later time)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88918062932?pwd=ZnRUTDFSMGI5VVVPTkdiS3NaZW9MQT09
Meeting ID: 889 1806 2932
Passcode: 842159

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am 
Zoom Children’s Choirs:  Wed 5pm and Thurs 4pm
email sealpandp@gmail.com for links

Wednesday at 7.15 pm Adult Choir on Zoom 
email philiplebas@gmail.com for link


Trinity 7
Today’s Gospel reading is a puzzling one, in which a woman comes to Jesus to ask for healing for her daughter. Jesus is in the district of Tyre and Sidon, a coastal district to the north of Galilee, modern day Lebanon –foreign territory for Jesus, in other words – but home for this woman. This was an area which had been inhabited for thousands of years by Canaanites, also known as Phoenicians, who had lived here since before the Israelites had settled the land to the south, driving them out of that land. The Phoenicians were famous seagoers, importing and exporting through the ports of Tyre and Sidon, and founding many colonies around the Mediterranean including Carthage in North Africa, parts of Sardinia and Sicily and the southern tip of Spain. Valuable exports included the purple dye made from the tiny murex sea-shell, which was reserved for the ruling classes of the ancient world (and is why purple is still regarded as a somewhat luxurious colour – think of the Cadbury’s chocolate wrapper if you don’t believe me!). The Phoenicians produced one of the earliest known alphabets – long distance traders need ways of communicating efficiently with people they can’t talk to face to face, and another Phoenecian port, Byblos, specialised in the import of papyrus made in Egypt, on which the earliest books were written. That’s why the Greek word for book is Biblos, plural Biblia, which is where we get the word Bible from (and bibliography, bibliophine and everything else to do with books!)
 
But along with this history of thriving industry and invention, these Phoenician territories had a seedier side, at least according to the Bible, which is often suspicious of what goes on in them. This is probably partly rooted in fact. Archaeologists have found evidence that they practiced infant sacrifice, which the Bible castigates them for, and those seaport towns are likely to have been rackety places, with a lot of people coming and going, wheeling and dealing. There would have been sailors from all over the world, far from home and living by their own rules, out on the razzle after long weeks at sea, maybe with a “girl in every port”. I wonder whether the woman in today’s Gospel story might have been one of those women, abandoned by her lover with a child to raise, as there seems to be no man to speak for her or defend her, which would have been unusual in the culture of Jesus’ time. Phoenician women had a bad reputation in the Bible, embodied in the stories of Jezebel, the Phoenician princess who had married Israel’s King Ahab. Even if people know nothing about the Bible, they know what a “Jezebel” is – her name has become shorthand for a temptress, a woman who is up to no good somehow.
 
The first puzzle then is why on earth Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon. If he wanted to get away from the rising tensions around his ministry in Galilee, to take a break, to have time to ponder and pray, this was hardly the place for a devout Jew to do that. It seems to me that it was a deliberate decision to go somewhere where he knew he would be challenged, faced with things which would stretch even his tolerance, expanding his vision of God’s love. If that is the case, it is certainly what happened when this woman came to him, demanding help.
 
The second puzzle is why he seems intent on turning her away at first, quite rudely… It seems that even for Jesus, this woman is, at first, a bridge too far. In today’s sermon, I ponder what might have been going on, and why this story might matter to us.

  • Have you ever been somewhere, or found yourself in a situation, which feels so “foreign” to you that you have had trouble dealing with it? What happened?

 

All Age Ideas and Resources
 If you can, why not join us for our Outdoor Worship in Seal Churchyard today, with a story from me, and some time to pray and chat at a safe distance. Bring a rug or a folding chair. 4pm for about 20 - 25 mins.

Children's sheet linked to the Sunday theme from Roots
https://www.rootsontheweb.com/media/20740/16-aug-2020-childrens-sheet.pdf

Adult reflection ideas from Roots
https://www.rootsontheweb.com/media/21135/liveyourfaith_108-lockdown-version_16-august.pdf
Prayer of the week
A prayer to end the day
 
Christ stands before me
and peace is in his mind.
Sleep, O sleep
in the calm of all calm.
Sleep, O sleep
in the love of all love
Sleep I this night
in the God of all life.
 
J. Philip Newell, from Each Day, Each Night.

This little prayer, which is part of my personal evening prayer is, I think, profoundly comforting. At the end of a day, any day, when things have gone wrong as well as right, and when some things that ought to have been done haven’t been done at all, it is good to be reminded that Christ has “peace in his mind” towards me, even if I might not feel that way about myself!
 
HYMN OF THE WEEK
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings
 
 
1 Sometimes a light surprises
the Christian while he sings;
it is the Lord, who rises
with healing in his wings:
when comforts are declining,
he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.
 
2 In holy contemplation
we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God’s salvation,
and find it ever new;
set free from present sorrow,
we cheerfully can say,
“Let the unknown tomorrow
bring with it what it may.”
 
3 It can bring with it nothing
but he will bear us through;
who gives the lilies clothing
will clothe his people too:
beneath the spreading heavens
no creature but is fed;
and he who feeds the ravens
will give his children bread.
 
4 Though vine nor fig tree neither
their wonted [expected] fruit should bear,
though all the field should wither,
nor flocks nor herds be there;
yet God the same abideth,
his praise shall tune my voice,
for, while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

 
This lovely hymn is not sung nearly as often as it ought to be, so I was glad that the choristers of St Martin in the Fields recorded it to be used in C of E church online worship services during the pandemic, and why I included it in this week’s podcasts.

It was written by William Cowper (pronounced Cooper), 1731-1800, a prolific hymn writer and Romantic poet. His life was not easy, dogged by mental health problems from his teenage years, which often manifested itself in a belief that God was angry with him or had rejected him, not helped by the rather grim Calvinist theology of the religious circles in which he moved, which placed a heavy emphasis on sin and damnation. He had originally intended to be a lawyer, but his dread of the public examination he would have to take triggered a profound depression which led him to attempt suicide several times. He was hospitalised on a number of occasions, but eventually found some peace and support when he went to live in Olney, whose curate was John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote “Amazing Grace”. Cowper became an ardent and vocal opponent of the slave trade, along with Newton and his ballad poem 
“The Negro’s Complaint” became very popular among Abolitionists. Respite from his mental ill-health was only ever intermittent, however, aided according to a 1907 biography of him, by “carpentering, gardening, glazing, and the tendance of some tame hares and other playmates”. I have never encountered “tame hare” therapy for depression, but I can well believe there might be something in it!
 

The best of Cowper’s hymns, many of which were included in John Newton’s Olney Hymnal come out of his lifelong battle with his depression, acknowledging the reality of his feelings of despair, but also looking beyond them to the love of God. He is also the author of “God moves in a mysterious way”, “O for a closer walk with God”, “Jesus where’er thy people meet” and  “Hark my soul, it is the Lord”, with its lovely lines inspired by Isaiah 49.15, “Can a woman’s tender care, cease toward the child she bare? Yes, she may forgetful be, yet will I [God] remember thee.” Cowper’s own mother had died when giving birth to his younger brother when he was six, and it is speculated that the feeling of abandonment this produced seems to have been a factor in his depression. 

“Sometimes a light surprises” draws its inspiration from a number of Bible passages. “Healing in his wings”, (also familiar from the third verse of “Hark the Herald Angels sing”) comes from Malachi 4.2, and in verse three, you may recognise the reference to Jesus’ words to “consider the lilies”, who God clothes more splendidly than Solomon, and the birds who are fed by God – if he cares for them so well, surely he will care for us too. The last verse, which is my favourite, is inspired by Habbakuk 3.17. Habbakuk was an Old Testament prophet whose message was that although he lived in times of great destruction and difficulty, God was still present. Habbakuk, and Cowper, don’t deny the real and justifiable sorrow they feel, but find God within it.
 
We usually sing this hymn to the tune Offertorium, by Michael Haydn (brother of the famous Joseph Haydn), but there is another version below, set to the folk tune “Salley Gardens”  which I think is a lovely setting.

SCARECROWS
The SCARECROW FESTIVAL has been brought forward this year, to enable more children to get involved, whilst they are off school, and often with nowhere to go!  Scarecrows can go up outside your property, or another agreed venue, from August 15th, and there will be a trail for you and yours to follow, over August Bank Holiday weekend. If you wish your scarecrow to be 'ON THE TRAIL', please contact Janetta on 01732 762729 or Barbara on 01732 762255. It has been agreed to have no prizes awarded this year, as there are always amazing entries, and everybody deserves a huge THANK YOU for making the effort to contribute to the festival. We will be holding a lockdown exhibition, hopefully later in the year, so please take a selfie of yourself/selves, with your scarecrow and also send to either Barbara or Janetta or email to sealchurchevents@gmail.co. If you have nowhere to display your scarecrow, or you feel you are too far out of the village, please ask the local shops and businesses if they would like one outside their premises. They often like to join in, but don't have the time to make their own!
GREAT LITTLE GARDEN GATHERINGS
During the summer, the Church is fund raising to help plug the financial gaps caused by this pandemic. We are looking for people to host small (maximum 6 people) garden tea/lunch/supper parties, with donations being made to the church. If you feel you could host such an event, please contact Rosemary on 01959 524914 or Chris on 01732 763585.You could also contact us by emailing 
sealchurchevents@gmail.com. A pack containing invitations, guidelines and a risk assessment is ready for your use. There have been several Gatherings so far – many thanks to those who have hosted them – and they seemed to go smoothly and safely, so do join in.
SURVEY
Many thanks to those of you (46 in all) who completed the survey I put out over the last few weeks. I have closed the surveys now, but if you missed them, I would still be very glad to hear from you in an email, letter, phone call, or socially distanced visit, how this time of lockdown has been for you, and how you are feeling about the future, both personally and in terms of what Seal Church can do to support you.
I am pondering the findings of the survey but initial impressions are that, although these past few months have been difficult in many different ways for people, and there are real concerns about the future, people have appreciated the things Seal Church has been doing, and that many have felt a deepening of their faith and their connection with one another, the church and with God.
It is clear to me from your responses that it is important to keep offering the widest variety of ways of accessing worship and spiritual nourishment, because everyone has different needs, and different abilities and limitations in what they can do to connect with the church at the moment,  so please be assured that , as well as what we offer in church and in the church yard (Outdoor Church has been well received!), the podcasts and phone line will continue, as will, in some form, this weekly newsletter.
The question I asked about what activities people might like us to try to develop in the future produced interesting results. Top of the list was a walking group of some sort, so my question is, what sort? Do people want a short stroll, or a yomp? Would you like local walks, starting in or near the parish, or something further afield? Would you like something with a reflective element – a mini-pilgrimage – or just a walk? Let me know what you think.
Another request was for some sort of online Bible study group or opportunity to explore faith together or individually – watch this space for developments on that front!
Many thanks again for your feedback, which was interesting and affirming.
Anne
And finally...
Facemasks are now mandatory for worshippers in church, unless you are exempt from wearing them. The inimitable Dave Walker has reflected on the range of facemask possibilities…

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Scarecrow festival starts this weekend

 The SCARECROW FESTIVAL has been brought forward this year, to enable more children to get involved, whilst they are off school, and often with nowhere to go! Scarecrows can go up outside your property, or another agreed venue, from August 15th, and there will be a trail for you and yours to follow, over August Bank Holiday weekend. If you wish your scarecrow to be 'ON THE TRAIL', please contact Janetta on 01732 762729 or Barbara on 01732 762255. It has been agreed to have no prizes awarded this year, as there are always amazing entries, and everybody deserves a huge THANK YOU for making the effort to contribute to the festival. We will be holding a lockdown exhibition, hopefully later in the year, so please take a selfie of yourself/selves, with your scarecrow and also send to either Barbara or Janetta or email to sealchurchevents@gmail.co. If you have nowhere to display your scarecrow, or you feel you are too far out of the village, please ask the local shops and businesses if they would like one outside their premises. They often like to join in, but don't have the time to make their own!



Sunday, August 09, 2020

Sunday Worship and other news from Seal Church

 

Dear friends

I've been away on holiday in Porlock on the edge of Exmoor this week, so this newsletter,like last week's, is just the basic links to our worship and other activities because I knew I wouldn't have time to put anything more than this together. I  hope you enjoy your worship with us today, whether it is online or in person in church (Holy Communion restarts this week, along with said Evensong, and our Outdoor Church - we will find a shady spot in the churchyard if the weather is like it is today!.)
Best wishes
Anne Le Bas


SUNDAY WORSHIP Aug 9 Trinity 9

Morning Worship Podcast        Morning Worship Service sheet      
Evensong Podcast                   Evensong Service sheet                   

Worship in Seal Church building this week
It is now mandatory for all worshippers to wear face coverings unless they are exempt from doing so. There will be some disposable face masks available if you forget yours.

10 am Holy Communion
4pm  Outdoor Church in the churchyard
6.30pm Said Evensong

Wednesday
9.15am  Morning Prayer in Church
A short said service using the Common Worship Morning Prayer service. There are a few copies of this service available in church, but the easiest way to follow it if you want to join us is to download the Daily Prayer app https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/daily-prayer

Seal Church Zoom meetings this week:
 
Zoffee – Sunday chat at 11 am - If the link doesn't work, enter the meeting ID and password instead!


Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82274130226?pwd=bUQ2enZrUC9GZ1RVTFhHb3BKNDYxdz09

Meeting ID: 822 7413 0226
Passcode: 044352

Wednesday Zoom Church – Wed  at 11 am Twenty minutes of informal worship with our friends at Lavender Fields. Everyone is welcome.
email 
sealpandp@gmail.com for the link. 

Zoom Children’s Choir - 
Wed at 5pm
AND
Thurs at  4pm 
please contact 
sealpandp@gmail.com for the link. Any children are welcome for 30 minutes of fun songs.
 
Zoom Adult Choir – Wednesday 7.15pm Contact philiplebas@gmail.com for the link.

There's probably nothing more boring than someone else's holiday photos, but here are a few of ours anyway. 
From top left, clockwise: Culbone Church, reputably the smallest parish church in England, tucked away in a deep valley in the woods near Porlock Weir.
Porlock Bay, looking lovely in the sunshine
A baby donkey - couldn't resist this photo, and the donkey didn't seem to mind.
The Chapter House in the ruins of Cleeve Abbey, an old Cistercian abbey.