In this week's edition:
- From Sam
- Services in October
- Messy Church
- Heritage Open Day
- Christian Aid Harvest Lunches
- Christmas is coming
- Thank you
- Upcoming Events
- The Minister is tired
- Worship on Facebook, the Website and Youtube
- This month's Exciting Holiness(es)
- For your prayers
- Contact us
A window from the convent of St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
1. FROM SAM
Greetings to all readers of this newsletter, whether old friends, newcomers or visitors, nearby or far-flung, young or old!
I’d like to let you know about a planned change in our practice around communion in church. As time goes on and we become used to the idea that mandatory restrictions around face coverings and the like are now simply guidance, it is time to consider the remaining restrictions on church life. These were of course put in place for the protection of all, and although the threat is being managed in a different way now, it remains important that we don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable about coming to church, and that we respect everyone’s own judgement about their personal situation.
Firstly, I’d like to point out what I hope, after the experience of the last 18 months, we all not only understand in our heads but know in our hearts: that receiving communion in one kind only is no kind of half-measure. Jesus is fully present in the bread and wine of communion, not fifty percent in each! There are those who, for medical or other reasons, always receive in only one kind, or even not physically at all but spiritually. We know in our hearts that those people are not in some way denied the full gift of the sacrament; well, that has been the situation for the whole community for the last little while. We have been restricted by circumstances to a narrower expression of communion, but a no less fulsome one when it comes to the superabundant grace of God!
However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be a yearning in many for the full expression of communion in both kinds. And so, as time goes on and circumstances change, we need to regularly review the practicalities of how communion is distributed. The Church of England guidance is notably firmer than in many places when it says that there are only three options:
(1) ‘under the form of bread alone, mindful that the president must still receive in both kinds’; (2) ‘in both kinds in the customary manner with a shared cup or chalice used to administer the consecrated wine’; (3) ‘in both kinds by simultaneous administration. Intinction should not be practised by individual communicants, and methods of administering the wine other than by means of a shared cup or simultaneous administration should not be employed’.
The first option is what we are practising at the moment; the second option is what we used to do before the pandemic; the third option takes a little more explaining. What the guidance calls ‘simultaneous administration’ is the practice of the person administering communion dipping (‘intincting’) the wafer into the wine, and then placing it into the hand of the communicant. This last option has been used in some places, but the idea of placing a slightly soggy wafer into someone’s hand has put many off this option, including in these parishes. Note that that third option also rules out the use of individual cups.
A couple more points about hygiene that apply equally outside of a pandemic as in are worth making. Firstly, drinking wine from a shared cup in the way that we used to do is less risky than it sounds. The combination of a silver vessel, alcohol, and most importantly a firm wipe of the chalice with the purificator cloth between communicants means that there are no known instances of a shared chalice being the cause of any kind of infectious outbreak. Secondly, you will have noticed that the guidance is unusually firm on the subject of self-intinction, in other words individual communicants retaining their wafers and then using them to dip into the shared cup. It has long been known that this is a riskier practice. While it is generally done for the right reasons of wishing to avoid passing on infection, those who administer the chalice will know that, from time to time, there will be contact between the fingers of the person dipping their wafer and the wine itself. This opens up the real possibility of transmission to the next person who drinks the wine. If you are concerned about passing something on, it is far better to abstain from the wine altogether.
In considering all these factors and others including the layout of our churches, we have decided that we can introduce the option of receiving communion from a shared cup in both churches from All Saints’ Sunday, 31st October. As to practicalities, at St Cuthbert’s there will be a chalice station to the side and set well back, so that those who wish can visit it; those who do not wish to can instead return to their seat. At Wookey Hole people will visit the rail in the normal manner; you can choose whether to return to your seat after receiving a wafer or to wait for the chalice to come round. It is worth restating that this will be an option, and that no-one — God included — will be passing any kind of judgement on you for your chosen approach to the situation.
In line with the Church of England rules and scientific evidence mentioned above, self-intinction will not be permitted; if necessary, chalice administrators will ask people to consume the elements separately for the good health of all.
It is of course also true that these arrangements will be kept under review and may have to change according to the circumstances of the pandemic over the coming winter.
If you have any questions or concerns about these arrangements, please do not hesitate to speak to me, Lucy, or any of the churchwardens.
2. SERVICES IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER
3. OTHER SERVICES
TAIZÉ SERVICE: SUNDAY 10TH OCTOBER AT ST THOMAS'S CHURCH
MESSY CHURCH: SUNDAY 17TH OCTOBER
After a successful re-launch in September (though I do wonder why there were dried peas in the pulpit afterwards!), there will be another Messy Church session at 3.00 pm on Sunday 17th October.
Families and helpers very welcome. See Lucy.
4.HERITAGE OPEN DAY
This was a very successful event and yet again the church family rose to the occasion, providing the same warm welcome to visitors that was on show during the August Sunday Open Afternoons. The tower was open again and there were friendly and knowledgeable guides in the church to show off our wonderful building and its fascinating past.
Visitors enjoyed a short drama telling the story of prisoners in Wells after the Monmouth Rebellion with an impressive and ferocious Judge Jeffreys. Alistair looked very grand as he re-created the role of Anthony Sevier whose gift to the church promised bread to the poor of Southover on every second Sunday of the month. Alistair gave out small loaves to sometimes rather bemused visitors!
The theme of Heritage Open Days this year was 'Edible England' and possibly the stars of the afternoon were our 'Nippies'! Suzy Vivash had made brilliant outfits and the Nippies, together with the loan of flowery tea cups and cake stands, made for a very elegant tea for our visitors.
Many thanks are due to everyone who took part on the afternoon in any capacity and to those who provided cakes and sandwiches. It was a great afternoon!
St. Francis recreated the scene of Christ's birth in a special Mass he held inside of a cave in Greccio, Italy in 1223, when both his fellow friars and the townspeople joined in the celebration.
Later he told a friend why he desired to create the first nativity scene in his town:
"I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by."
He set up an empty manger inside a cave, and included a live ox and donkey. His idea was that everyone looking at the scene would understand how Christ came into the world in poverty and simplicity.
This is the tradition which we continue to celebrate through our Crib Festival.
The picture shows St. Francis of Assisi preparing the Christmas crib at Greccio. Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy
ALFRED THE GREAT (26TH OCTOBER)
King Alfred who ruled Wessex from 871 to 899 AD was, of course a military leader who drove the Danes out of Wessex and set the foundations of a united England. But he was also a thinker, a reader, a law-maker and a huge promoter of education for all.
He thought as a Christian king and dutiful ruler it was his duty to revive learning in his kingdom. He gathered scholars together from other parts of the country; set up schools and, personally, translated many Latin texts into the English vernacular. Charles Dickens later wrote:
I pause to think with admiration of the noble king, who, in his single person, possessed all the Saxon virtues; whom misfortune could not subdue, whom prosperity could not spoil, whose perseverance nothing could shake; who was hopeful in defeat, and generous in success; who loved justice, freedom, truth, and knowledge; who, in his care to instruct his people, probably did more to preserve the beautiful Saxon language than I can imagine; without whom the English tongue in which I tell this story might have wanted half its meaning. Alfred’s intellectual activity breathed fresh life into English education and literature.
WILLIAM TYNDALE (6TH OCTOBER)
William Tyndale (1494-1536) was an English priest whose life was devoted to making the scriptures available to everyone - a fundamental basis for the Protestant Reformation.
Having been refused permission in England to translate the New Testament, he spent most of his life moving between sympathetic friends in various northern European cities.
During his lifetime he produced an English translation of the New Testament and of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament. His mission was helped by the expansion of printing at the same time. The first printed edition of the New Testament in English was produced in 1526 and was widely - albeit illegally - circulated in England.
By 1535 several Englishmen were hunting down Tyndale. One of these, Henry Phillips, wormed his way into Tyndale's household and then betrayed him to the authorities. In August 1536, he was condemned and in October he was strangled and his body burned at the stake. His last prayer was "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." The prayer was answered in part when three years later, in 1539, Henry VIII required every parish church in England to make a copy of the English Bible available to its parishioners.
Much of Tyndale's version was included in the King James Bible which has had such a big influence on our language.