Daily Reflections 
- keeping in touch 
All Church services and mid-week gatherings are cancelled during the current situation. This means that there will be no formal services in St Laurence Church for the time being. 
 
However, we will 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 (currently daily). 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 November 2020 
 
‘For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep… I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken’ (Ezekiel 34:11-12,23-24). 
 
The image of God as our shepherd is a very powerful one. He cares for us, protects us, leads us and guides us. ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ the Psalmist writes, ‘I shall not want’ (Psalm 23:1). While Jesus tells us ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ (John 10:11). 
 
Today we celebrate Christ as King of All. He is the Lord of all creation who will return in glory at the end of time - bringing all under his just and gentle rule.. Christ’s kingship stands in contradiction to this world’s conceptions of status and power. It reminds us that Jesus is King of Kings over all earthly authorities - and we are called to worship, to serve and to obey him. 
 
A survey ‘Coronavirus, Church and You’ has concluded that ‘the writing is on the wall. These statistics show that the fragile-church hypothesis is well established in the countryside, but also experienced more widely by one in five clergy across the Church of England. Too many parish churches are running out of money, running out of people, and now running out of time. Covid-19 has hastened the urgency with which the problem needs to be addressed. Perhaps now is the time to engineer a second Reformation in England’s green and pleasant land. 
But, before the management model steps in to close these fragile churches, it is sensible to pause to reflect on how these churches may continue to speak to a new generation, and whether there is something fundamentally different between how churches work in society and how sects work in society… The new post Covid-19 Reformation may well decide that the time has come to abandon the parish churches and to find a sectarian future. This should offer a good short-term solution. What is so unfortunate, however, is that the lessons of history remind us that the Church at large survives largely because parish churches endlessly reinvent themselves as they resist pressures that would see them vanish with the morning mist’ (Church Times 20 November 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Eternal Father, 
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven 
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: 
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit 
and in the bond of peace, 
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; 
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 service for today from the church and a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. There is no service in Church under the current lockdown rules, but the Church does remain open for private prayer from 11am and I will ring the bell so we can pray together at 10:30am. 
 
If today were not a Sunday, we would be remembering St Cecilia, the patron of music and musicians. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray for those who produce our Parish magazine, helping us to stay in touch. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for our bishops: Bishop Nicholas, our diocesan bishop, and Bishops Andrew and Karen, our suffragan bishops. On Tuesday we pray for politicians and their advisors. 
 
‘God uses the words of the Bible as a school of righteousness, of justice, and of love... Our reading shapes our desires, our imaginations, our emotions, our habits, our ideas, our relationships, our institutions, the structures of our society, and our cultures. It shapes all the physical stuff of the lives we live ... together in the world. All of life is caught up in the curriculum of this school’ (Church of England Report: Living in Love and Faith). 
Friday 20th November 2020 
 
‘All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice’ (Proverbs 21:2-3). 
 
It is all too human to find reasons for doing what we want to do anyway, and then seeking excuses - or even scripture - to justify our prejudices or selfishness. God, though, sees through into our innermost being. He understands our true motives and our self-centredness. In his love he leads us gently to see the truth more clearly and to walk in his ways. ‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8). 
 
Today the Church commemorates Edmund King of the East Angles - and the first patron saint of England. Born on Christmas Day 841AD, Edmund succeeded to the throne of East Anglia in 856. Brought up as a Christian, he fought alongside King Alfred of Wessex against the pagan Viking and Norse invaders (the Great Heathen Army) until 869/70 when his forces were defeated and Edmund was captured. He was ordered by the Vikings to renounce his faith and share power with the pagan invaders, but he refused. According to the 10th century account of the saint’s life by Abbo of Fleury, who quotes St Dunstan as his source, Edmund was then bound to a tree, shot through by arrows and beheaded when he refused to rule as a Viking underking. 
 
There has been an exciting change at the Salisbury Foodbank. On 1st November it became an independent charity, no longer run by the Trussell Trust. In future if you wish to give a monetary donation, you will have to decide whether you wish to donate to the Salisbury Foodbank, The Trussell Trust - or perhaps both! For more details see the December copy of the Downton Parish News. 
 
The collect for today: 
Eternal God, 
whose servant Edmund kept faith to the end, 
both with you and with his people, 
and glorified you by his death: 
grant us such steadfastness of faith 
that, with the noble army of martyrs, 
we may come to enjoy the fullness of the resurrection life; 
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 for today we pray for charities struggling to continue their work and fundraising. Many are finding it very difficult to continue with their core purpose as their income plummets. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all ministers in our village. Please pray that we may know the wisdom to speak God’s word into our current situation. 
 
‘This year, how about saving Christmas by keeping Advent? Look for safe ways to buy the presents and order the food. Give some time to writing some personal cards or messages. Then, dust down your Bible and look up the stories for yourself. Light a candle for each Sunday. And enjoy the peace - peace now, as you give Christmas the best chance it can have of going off well; and the promise of a peace that passes our understanding that can surround us, come what may’ (Dr David Thomson, Church Times 13 November 2020). 
 
‘God’s creation is a dazzling explosion of diversity which speaks of the unutterable beauty, unfathomable grandeur, and infinite creativity of the Creator. And so when God made human beings, they too reflected this dazzling diversity’ (Church of England Report: Living in Love and Faith). 
Wednesday 18th November 2020 
 
‘Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!.. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!’ (Psalm 150:1-2,6). 
 
Here at the end of the Book of Psalms everything is summed up in praise. We praise God for all that he is, all that he has done, all his blessings in our lives: our creation, salvation and the love that keeps and sustains us in every moment. Everything and everyone is called upon to praise our God! 
 
‘As our parishes and schools adjust again in changing times, returning to lockdown patterns and seeking to involve those with and without technology, new forms of church gathering, worship and working are emerging. Where do we go from here? In this Diocese, we have fostered traditional church while recognising the need for forms of church that respond to the people, communities and cultures around us that are less ‘churched’. We are now seeing churches with magazine-style services streamed on social media, phone networks, person-to-person messaging, and international reach, alongside traditional prayers and liturgy, playing of pre-recorded hymns, and lighting of candles. Can these new forms be ‘Church’?’ (The Diocese of Salisbury 13 November 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Heavenly Lord, 
you long for the world’s salvation: 
stir us from apathy, 
restrain us from excess 
and revive in us new hope 
that all creation will one day be healed 
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
I will 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. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for School Governors, giving thanks for all the time, energy and commitment they give to our schools. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. The Church remembers Hilda, abbess of Whitby, who was recognised for the wisdom that drew even kings to her for advice. At the Synod of Whitby (664AD) she was instrumental in bringing resolution between the Celtic and Roman traditions in the Anglo-Saxon Church. So in our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying that we may work together for the Church. 
 
The Archbishops’ call to prayer for the nation - the prayer for this week: 
Loving Father God, 
be with us in our distress; 
be with our families, friends, and neighbours, 
our country and our world. 
Give health to the sick, 
hope to the fearful, 
and comfort to mourners. 
Give wisdom to our frontline and key workers, 
insight to our Government, 
and patience to us all. 
Overcome disease with the power of your new life, 
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
On 18th November 1477 William Caxton published Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers, the first dated book printed in England. Also on 18th November 1959 the film Ben-Hur, arguably the best of Hollywood’s biblical epics, had its world premiere; it later won an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards. 
Sunday 15th November 2020 
 
‘For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11). 
 
We have a great future and destiny stored up for us by God. We are to live with our eyes fixed firmly on that. We have the joy of living in the light of Christ. We have the hope of expectation that one day we will live forever with him in God’s kingdom. We are an expectant people - we have a lot to look forward to! 
 
‘Church leaders continue to press the Government on the importance of worship and prayer on the spiritual and mental health of the nation, but have conceded that places of worship are unlikely to reopen before the second lockdown ends on 2 December… A spokesperson for Church House explained on Tuesday: “We are stating the importance of public worship for spiritual and mental health, and as the heart of the Church’s mission and ministry. We are also stating the measures introduced since March to make church buildings as safe as they possibly can be. We expect public worship to resume once lockdown is over. We are focusing on the positive steps we can encourage, including the month of prayer in November [News, 6 November], and forward to ensuring churches are ready for Christmas in different circumstances”’ (Church Times 12 November 2020). 
 
From the diocese: ‘Our parishes have been told their Share request will remain the same for 2021. With a few exceptional cases, our parishes will be asked to raise no more in Share than they were asked to pay in 2020. Writing to Parish Treasurers, the Chair of our Diocesan Board of Finance, Nigel Salisbury recognised we are living in exceptional times, saying that his letter “comes at a time of continuing difficulty and renewed uncertainty for all our parishes and communities.” With the possibility that restrictions may still be in place well into next year, Nigel also asked our parishes: “Whatever your particular circumstances as a parish, please pay us what you can, when you can both for the remaining weeks of 2020 and in the year ahead”’ (The Diocese of Salisbury 13 November 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Heavenly Father, 
whose blessed Son was revealed 
to destroy the works of the devil 
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life: 
grant that we, having this hope, 
may purify ourselves even as he is pure; 
that when he shall appear in power and great glory 
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; 
where he 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. You may notice the large plastic sheeting to one side of the picture - this is protecting the organ while vital remedial work is being done to the west wall and in the south transept. 
There is no service in Church under the current lockdown rules. However the Church is open for private prayer from 11am and I will ring the bell so we can pray together at 10:30am. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our witness as a Church. At a time when life is far from normal and many assumptions in society are under pressure, we stand for a God who is eternal, creator and Lord of the world - who holds all history in his hands. Public worship may have been banned but the Church is still here and, arguably, more important than ever. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for Churches Together in Downton. On Tuesday we pray for all who rely on food aid which has become an increasingly serious problem. 
 
On 15th November 1859 the final instalment of Charles Dickens’ serialized novel “A Tale of Two Cities” was published. In contrast, it was on this day in 2001 that Microsoft released Xbox, the video game console system. 
Friday 13th November 2020 
 
‘Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways’ (Psalm 119:1-3). 
 
We are God’s people called according to his purpose. Only in following him and living according to his love can we find our true fulfilment, happiness and peace. The one who walks in God’s word knows the true blessedness of living and enjoying an undefiled life wholeheartedly - not trying to ‘serve two masters’ (Matthew 6:24). 
 
There was a ‘socially distanced Armistice Day service at Westminster Abbey, marking the centenary to the day of the burial of the Unknown Warrior there, started at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday. At 11 a.m. there was two minutes’ silence. Attendance was by invitation only, but the service was streamed live by the BBC… Archbishop Welby said: “We pay tribute to the men and women who died on so many battlefields, unnamed and unclaimed except by God. Sacrifice not only comes in times of war... It is the virtue that smooths the rough roads over which our societies travel. This year people have put aside all they hold dear. We may not know what they have suffered or given up. They may be anonymous, but their actions are glorious. From their lives comes fruit. From the life of this Unknown Warrior comes the fruit of Remembrance and hope. When we face deep uncertainties and difficulties, we do not just look after ourselves - we make a stand. We know that none of us are safe until all are safe”’ (Church Times 11 November 2020). 
 
‘Part of being human is to be imperfect. We are all imperfect in different ways and impatient with other people’s imperfections and sometimes with our own.. Jesus demonstrates both patience and realism about his team and his friends. Jesus acknowledges that ministry and service will be very difficult for.. his companions. There will be opposition that is both seen and unseen. The disciples must anticipate this.. in our inevitable weakness and failure, we become better ministers and servants through the times when we stumble and fall and fail’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 28 July 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
God, our refuge and strength, 
bring near the day when wars shall cease 
and poverty and pain shall end, 
that earth may know the peace of heaven 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for those at work worried about social distancing. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all visitors to our Churches. We are grateful that although we are unable to hold services at the moment, at least our churches do not have to be closed to private prayer. 
 
‘During the lockdown, the UK Government has again banned corporate worship (News, 6 November). They have done so without giving evidence that such a ban, with its human costs, would be an effective means of fighting the coronavirus. Permission has, quite rightly, been given for churches to be used for “essential voluntary and public services”, for private prayer, and for services to be broadcast online, but not for the services for which churches were originally built. The Government has simply not grasped the reality that communal worship, especially the eucharist, feeds those who hunger for it just as foodbanks feed those in need. Worship is not a leisure activity, but, alongside mission, is at the heart of what it means to be Christian. Indeed, worship and mission are two sides of the same coin. Worship feeds and motivates mission; mission poses penetrating questions about worship (The Rt Revd Dr Brian Castle, Church Times 10 November 2020). 
 
On 13th November 1862 Lewis Carroll wrote in his diary, “Began writing the fairy-tale of Alice - I hope to finish it by Christmas”. Also on this day in 1940 Walt Disney released “Fantasia” an experiment in animation and classical music. Unlike his first two animated movies Fantasia was not a commercial success but is now considered a classic. 
Wednesday 11th November 2020 
 
‘When the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:4-7). 
 
Today is Remembrance Day, although there will be no act of remembrance at the Borough Cross and we must remember quietly at home. It is also the day when the Church remembers Martin, Bishop of Tours. This is a happy coincidence, perhaps, as Martin was himself a soldier. 
 
Martin was born early in the 4th century in what is now Hungary where his father was a high-ranking officer in the Roman Imperial Horse Guard. At the age of fifteen, Martin was required to follow his father into the cavalry. By the time he was 18, Martin is believed to have served in Gaul, and also eventually Milan and Treves - and scholars think he served as part of the emperor's guard. About the age of 20, Martin made clear to his superiors that he would no longer fight, following his Christian conscience - “I am Christ’s soldier: I am not allowed to fight”. Martin travelled to Tours where he began studying under Hilary of Poitiers. Here Martin established a monastery and became the father of monasticism in Gaul, and the first great leader of Western monasticism. Then in 371AD he was made bishop of the city despite not wanting the job. He died in 397AD and was one of the first non-martyrs to be publicly venerated as a saint. 
 
‘Martin’s worry about cooperation with evil reminds us that almost nothing is either all black or all white. The saints are not creatures of another world: They face the same perplexing decisions that we do. Any decision of conscience always involves some risk. If we choose to go north, we may never know what would have happened had we gone east, west, or south. A hyper-cautious withdrawal from all perplexing situations is not the virtue of prudence; it is in fact, a bad decision, for “not to decide is to decide”’ (www.franciscanmedia.org/). 
 
From the Archbishops’ letter to the nation: ‘Soon it will be Christmas. At his birth Jesus was also called Emmanuel. It’s a word that appears in lots of carols. It means ‘God is with us’. And this is the message of Christmas: in Jesus, God is with us, sharing our darkness and our struggles, bringing comfort and joy. It is the source of our hope. As the Bible says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Let us shine in the darkness of this winter’. 
 
The collect for today: 
God all powerful, 
who called Martin from the armies of this world 
to be a faithful soldier of Christ: 
give us grace to follow him 
in his love and compassion for the needy, 
and enable your Church to claim for all people 
their inheritance as children of God; 
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/) 
 
I will be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. I will ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who suffer through war. Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all medical staff in hospitals, GP surgeries, Care homes and research laboratories. 
 
The Archbishops’ call to prayer for the nation - the prayer for this week: 
Loving God, 
at this time of crisis 
when so many are suffering, 
we pray for our nation and our world. 
Give our leaders wisdom, 
our Health Service strength, 
our people hope. 
Lead us through these parched and difficult days 
to the fresh springs of joy and comfort 
that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
Sunday 8th November 2020 
 
‘I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:1-4). 
 
We should give thanks and pray for those who are in authority, says Paul, because God has ordained government in society to keep order. For all its faults and the failings of those who rule, we need government. In his Apology, Tertullian referenced this verse when saying that he prayed for emperors and the empire, for courageous armies, for a faithful senate and virtuous people, and for peace. “All who are in authority” would include officials of foreign nations - even enemy nations. Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for those who mistreat and persecute us, so “that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45). 
 
Paul’s words are especially remarkable given that Nero, who instituted a terrible persecution of Christians, was emperor during Paul’s ministry. Paul doesn’t specify the contents of our prayers for these officials. Should we pray that their hearts be turned towards God? Yes! Should we pray that they be given wisdom and integrity? Certainly! Should we pray that they act wisely and justly? Most assuredly! 
 
Today is Remembrance Sunday. There is a recorded service from the church - together with members of our local Royal British Legion. The service includes a time of Remembering, with the Exhortation, Last Post, two minutes Silence and Reveille. There is a copy of the service sheet you can download or view online in order to join in. The main tenor bell from the tower will be rung for remembrance at 11am. 
 
Our 10:30am service of Holy Communion in Church has been cancelled under current lockdown rules, but the Church is open for private prayer from 11am and I will ring the bell so we can pray together at 10:30am. Rev. Ron Hart was due to lead this service, and I attach his notes. Thank you, Ron. 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty Father, 
whose will is to restore all things 
in your beloved Son, the King of all: 
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, 
and bring the families of the nations, 
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, 
to be subject to his just and gentle rule; 
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 for today we pray for those at University and College. We pray especially for those suffering from the mental stress of lockdown and those worried about seeing their families at Christmas. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for those in Residential and Nursing Homes - lifting them, their families and all who care for them to God. On Tuesday we pray for our bellringers, thankful that we can still hear them as they ring out. 
 
From our service today: 
If there is to be peace in the world, 
There must be peace in the nations. 
If there is to be peace in the nations, 
There must be peace in the cities. 
If there is to be peace in the cities, 
There must be peace between neighbours. 
If there is to be peace between neighbours, 
There must be peace in the home. 
If there is to be peace in the home, 
There must be peace in the heart. 
(Lao-Tzu, 6th century BC) 
Friday 6th November 2020 
 
‘Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself’ (Philippians 3:20-21). 
 
At times we can get so caught up with the problems and trials of the world and our worries about life that we forget that our true home is in heaven. Our time here is one where we learn to follow in the ways of God and his service - an apprenticeship as it were. We have a most wonderful and glorious future in store for us. 
 
As of this week, we are unable to worship together in Church - but will continue to have midweek prayers and a recorded Sunday service. However the Church will be open for private prayer. This will now be on Sundays as well as Wednesdays. You are welcome to come and spend some quiet time from 11am to 12:30pm. 
 
‘The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appealed to the British people to be calm, courageous, and compassionate, the day before the second lockdown comes into force. In a rare letter to the nation, published on Wednesday, and addressed “Dear friends”, the Archbishops refer to the story of Jesus calming the storm. They write: “This year, too, we have been caught in a storm which often feels overwhelming. And yet we can look to Jesus, in the boat with us, who calms the storm and comforts us in fear.” 
They continue: “We are writing to share our belief that whoever you are, and whatever you happen to believe, you are loved by God. Beyond measure. We also want you to know that we are praying for you, particularly asking that Christ’s love will comfort us, calm our fears, and lead our nation and our world through this terrible pandemic.” 
They invite people to join churches in prayer every day at 6 p.m., and encourage three responses in particular. First, they ask people to be calm… Second, they call on people to be courageous… Third, they ask people to be compassionate’ (Church Times 4 November 2020). The full text of the letter can be found here
 
‘The Archbishops are encouraging daily prayer for the nation throughout the month. We are encouraged to pray daily for a specific area of national concern culminating in a collective moment of prayer at 6.00pm each evening, with cathedrals and churches across the country invited to ring a bell at this time. There is a simple seven-day prayer cycle, praying for a specific area each day including the NHS and frontline workers, the bereaved, and those struggling with physical and mental ill-health, and for children and young people’ (Bishop Nicholas). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
God of glory, 
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit, 
that we with all creation 
may rejoice to sing your praise; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Churchwarden and Deputy Churchwardens who continue to work hard for our Church family. Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all key workers who contribute so much to our health and welfare, especially at this time. 
 
This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. There will not be a formal Remembrance Parade or service but our recorded service - available on the website - will include remembrance with the Exhortation, Last Post, Silence and Reveille. 
 
For music lovers: Antoine-Joseph ”Adolphe” Sax, who invented the saxophone was born on 6th November 1814, while forty years later on 6th November 1854 the American bandmaster John Philip Sousa, who composed 136 military marches, was born. 
Wednesday 2nd November 2020 
 
‘Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:12-13). 
 
It is not in our own strength but God’s that we follow and serve him; it is not by our own efforts but by allowing God to work in and through us. This is particularly important to remember and understand in these difficult and worrying days. This is not to say that our part is unimportant, for we are to ‘work out your own salvation’. However we do this with God sustaining, strengthening and supporting us. He holds us in his hands, sets us on his paths and guides us with his Spirit. 
 
As I write and send these words to you, I am very aware of the perils in what I say. ‘It’s very tempting to judge success in the Church today by the number of Twitter followers a preacher has, or by the size of congregation a pastor draws, or by the book sales an author produces. All these things are of course done in the cause of the gospel, and when you do an internet search for the preacher/pastor/author’s name, somewhere in the results Jesus does get a mention. Yet, today, there remains across the globe a mighty army of faithful Christians called.. to follow Jesus, whose names are known only to God. Without monument or applause, they too know the truth of Isaiah’s words: ‘Only in the Lord... are righteousness and strength’. And.. in the power of the Spirit they are seeing Jesus change the world’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 28 October 2020). 
 
Tomorrow we enter a second period of lockdown. It has been announced that ‘Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for: Funerals, To broadcast acts of worship, Individual prayer’ (www.gov.uk). However ‘Senior church leaders were not consulted about the suspension of public worship, which was announced on Sunday as part of a second national lockdown which comes into force on Thursday. They were due to meet the Government on Monday to seek an explanation for “why certain exemptions were made and not others”. In an ad clerum sent to C of E clergy on Monday, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of London write that they are grateful that churches will be allowed to remain open for private prayer and online broadcasts. “We were cautious about these issues during the first lockdown - perhaps overly so - but in this second lockdown we want to encourage church buildings to remain open for private prayer wherever possible, making sure that their buildings are Covid-secure in the ways that we have learned in recent months, and to broadcast services from their church buildings”’ (Church Times 3 November 2020). 
We wait to hear the detail of the rules. 
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty and eternal God, 
you have kindled the flame of love 
in the hearts of the saints: 
grant to us the same faith and power of love, 
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs, 
we may be sustained by their example and fellowship; 
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/) 
 
I will be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. The bell will be rung and I ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all those made redundant or unable to find work. We know that all too many people have already lost their jobs or are unable to return to their workplace and are in need not only of practical help but our prayers. We pray also for the American people at this time. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for our Church School, which is doing a wonderful job ensuring our children continue to grow and learn in these difficult days. 
Sunday 1st November 2020 
 
‘After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”’ (Revelation 7:9-10). 
 
Today is All Saints Day. We are reminded that we are all saints - the people of God. As Paul writes to the Christians in Rome: ‘To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints’ (Romans 1:7). We recall also the witness of all those who have gone before and have encouraged and inspired us. Like stained glass windows, the saints are those who allow the light of God to shine through them. We rejoice that in God’s good time we will all stand together around his throne as one of the multitudes of the heavenly host. 
 
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 today at 10:30am we are having a short service of Holy Communion in Church - and the church bells will be ringing from 10 o’clock. 
 
Also this afternoon we have our All Souls service when we remember those whom we have loved and stand already in God’s presence. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory. 
 
‘When we commemorate during a liturgical celebration those who have gone before us, we do much more than direct a pious thought to our own deceased family and friends; we recognize that we stand in the midst of history and that the affirmation of our present condition is grounded in the recognition that we were brought to where we are now by the innumerable people who lived their lives before we were given the chance to live ours’ (Henri J.M. Nouwen). 
 
So we will be going into lockdown again this week - not, I think, any real surprise. We don’t know yet what this will mean for our services and Church life. I will let you know when I have more information but please watch the website. Whatever happens we intend to continue our recorded services. 
 
The November issue of Downton Parish News is now available free to view or download. For those unable to access our magazine through the website, there are a few printed copies available (free) in the Co-op, Chemist and Woodfalls Post Office. Please let anyone know that you think may want one - or collect one for them. They and we would be most grateful. 
 
The collect for today: 
God, you have knit together your elect 
in one communion and fellowship 
in the mystical Almighty body of your Son Christ our Lord: 
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints 
in all virtuous and godly living 
that we may come to those inexpressible joys 
that you have prepared for those who truly love 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 for today we pray that we may reflect God in our lives, living as his saints in the world. ‘Saints are not men who store goodness in themselves, they are just men who do not delay to repent, and whose repentances are honourable’ (Austin Farrer). There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for the bereaved and all who mourn. On Tuesday we pray for our Team Rector and family. 
 
On 3rd November 1534 the Act of Supremacy was passed confirming that Henry VIII was the head of the Church of England. From this has evolved our particular expression of what it means to be Church - and the worldwide Anglican Communion, now the third largest denomination of about 85 million Christians worldwide. 
Friday 30th October 2020 
 
‘All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendour of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations’ (Psalm 145:10-13). 
 
In these difficult and uncertain times, it is good to know that the one enduring and steadfast reality is God and his kingdom. We are God’s own people, and in Jesus we are the heirs of his kingdom which will last forever. In the words of the angel to Mary: ‘He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end’ (Luke 1:32-33). We are safe in his hands and set aside in his service. So we are to proclaim his kingdom - reflecting God in our lives and making him known in the world. ‘To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen’ (Revelation 1:5-6). 
 
‘When we see social relationships controlled everywhere by the principles which Jesus illustrated in life - trust, love, mercy, and altruism - then we shall know that the kingdom of God is here’ (Martin Luther King, Jr.). 
 
‘Churches in Switzerland have backed legislation to penalise multinationals that abuse human rights and damage the environment, and have urging that their country’s neutral and humanitarian traditions be deployed to encourage similar steps internationally. “Human rights provide a protective shield for everyone against inhuman treatment by a third party - this requires companies to respect human rights abroad as well,” the Evangelical Reformed Church said in a joint statement with Switzerland’s Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference. “It makes it all the more important that international enterprises headquartered in Switzerland actively contribute to protecting human rights where they cannot be guaranteed because of precarious political and legal conditions.” The statement was issued in support of a Corporate Responsibility Initiative, which threatens sanctions against companies that fail to uphold environmental and human-rights standards, and is to be put to a national referendum on 29 November’ (Church Times 23 October 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Merciful God, 
teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty, 
that trusting in your word 
and obeying your will 
we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
We had our Annual Meeting last Sunday. It was a small affair under the present restrictions, but important to the life of our Church. Thank you to all who produced reports - they are still up in Church if you wish to read them. I gave my Team Rector’s report which is now available to be read. 
 
This coming Sunday afternoon at 4pm we will be holding our All Souls service when we remember our loved ones. This year we have been giving priority to those who have been bereaved recently to attend. There are, though, a few extra spaces available. If you wish to come, please contact me. If you are unable to come, please pause for a moments prayer at that time. 
 
According to tradition, it was on 31st October 1517 that Martin Luther posted on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, his Ninety-five Theses. His manifesto turned a protest about an indulgence scandal into the Protestant Reformation - “Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me. Amen!”. 
 
‘Live in the kingdom of God in such a way that it provokes questions for which the gospel is the answer’ (Lesslie Newbigin). 
Wednesday 28th October 2020 
 
‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God’ (Ephesians 2:19-22). 
 
Today the Church celebrates the apostles Simon and Jude. Apart from their names in the Gospel, there is very little we know for definite about these two Apostles. Simon is called the Zealot (Luke 6:15). ‘Zealot’ here may indicate membership of a strict Jewish sect. There was also a party called Zealots famous in the war of the Jews against their Roman occupiers but there is no evidence they existed in Jesus’ lifetime. Jude, or Judas son of James (Luke 6:16), was also called Thaddaeus - presumably to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. “Judas” in New Testament contexts corresponds to “Judah” in the Old Testament. He is also believed to be the author of the Letter in the New Testament bearing his name. After the Last Supper we read: Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ (John 14:22-23). Some ancient Christian writers say that Simon and Jude went together as missionaries to Persia and were martyred there. If this is true, it explains, to some extent, our lack of historical information on them and also why they are usually put together. 
 
‘Unless the church stops being defined as the building, the ministry of lay people will not flourish, a new report suggests. The report.. offers an in-depth examination of the part played by the laity, historically and in scripture, and asks why a succession of church reports over more than half a century have failed to correct the Church’s leaning towards clericalism. “Why has the culture proved so difficult to shift when there is no obvious argument being put forward in favour of the status quo?” the report asks… 
“The risk is that the strength of association between church and place makes it easy to hear such language as making a distinction between being gathered into the church and being sent out from the church - with the clear implication that it is in gathering that the church is most truly at home and most truly itself.” This misunderstanding has been promoted by secularists and individualists, the report suggests, seeking to define the church only as what goes on in the building, or, at most, private piety or work of a social nature. Consequently, those who order life in the building - predominantly the clergy - achieve an elevated status, and clericalism continues to thrive. 
In contrast, the report says: “The church as gathered by and in God is not defined by geographical or social boundaries; while the church as sent by God always travels in divine company and never moves away from its divine origin”… Lay ministry cannot simply be that which the Church turns to because it can no longer afford enough professional, ordained ministers, or when not enough people come forward to train as priests. Congregations that are not, instead, being regularly asked what ministerial vocation each member is called to are “failing in a fundamental duty”. “The calling of God’s people as a whole is a kingdom calling: called to be sign, instrument and foretaste of the kingdom, which extends over all creation”’ (Church Times 22 October 2020). 
 
The collect for today: 
Almighty God, 
who built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 
with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone: 
so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, 
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to 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 for today we pray for all who rely on food aid. Clearly this is a very topical story at the moment. In the words of the Trussell Trust ‘No-one should face going hungry’. Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for School Governors. 
 
I will be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
Sunday 25th October 2020 
 
‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Colossians 3:16-17). 
 
Today we celebrate the received word of God that we have in and through the Scriptures (the Bible) - the great gift of God to us in his holy word, to inspire, teach and guide us. ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
 
‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation’ (Articles of the Church of England, VI). 
 
‘Post-pandemic stimulus packages are at risk of increasing global inequality and jeopardising efforts to reduce climate change, Christian Aid has warned. In a report released today, Whose Green Recovery?, the charity said that governments’ economic stimulus plans designed to aid reconstruction after Covid-19 were often just “rhetoric” that did little to help the most vulnerable. Christian Aid says that that half a trillion dollars globally have gone towards supporting carbon-intensive industries, and that 70 per cent more aid has been given to businesses related to fossil fuels, such as airlines, than to their green alternatives. In the UK alone, more than £5 billion has been awarded to the oil, gas, and transport sectors without requiring a future commitment to becoming more sustainable. Christian Aid said that recovery plans publicised as “green” made little provision for poorer countries that were trying to recover from the economic fallout. The danger inherent in this, the charity has said, was of poorer nations’ being left with only cheap fossil fuels to support post-pandemic recovery efforts. Any climate gains already made are under threat, as well as the status of the Paris agreement and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November next year (News, 5 September), the charity says’ (Church Times 23 October 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
Blessed Lord, 
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: 
help us so to hear them, 
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them 
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, 
we may embrace and for ever hold fast 
the hope of everlasting life, 
which you have given us in our 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 today at 10:30am we are having a short service of Holy Communion in Church - and the church bells will be ringing from 10 o’clock. This will be followed by our Annual Meeting. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray that we might grow through God’s Word. Scripture reveals God to us and helps us to understand him and his call. Jesus said ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’ (John 8:31-32). 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for the Trafalgar School at Downton. On Tuesday we pray for those in Residential and Nursing Homes. 
 
Today two significant battles in our history are remembered: Agincourt in 1415 and the Battle of Balaclava (which included the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. While both of these were remarkable encounters, it is perhaps an open question as to what we have learnt from them. 
Friday 23rd October 2020 
 
‘There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all’ (Ephesians 4:4-6). 
 
As the Church we need to remind ourselves constantly that we belong to the one Body of Christ. All our hopes, all our plans and ambitions for the Church should be contained in the one goal - the proclamation and building up of the Kingdom of God. That is our call, our purpose and our true joy, and the Church to which we belong is simply an instrument to help us as we seek to achieve that. 
 
‘The proverbial Someone Else, much beloved and terribly elusive, won’t fill in for us. I am the only person occupying my particular space in life with my opportunities and gifts and friendships. I am the only one who can witness to the kingdom of God, and work for it, in my particular setting. So it’s over to me, and you. Not as burden and duty but as privilege and joy. Not with my strength but with the light touch of the Spirit. Not with my ideas but with the nudge of God’s genius’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 17 October 2020). 
 
‘Politics must not be reduced to “raw majority power unleashed” that normalises law-breaking, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned. The UK “will suffer great harm” and peace between the home nations will be compromised, he told the House of Lords on Monday. Archbishop Welby was contributing to a debate on the Internal Markets Bill which was given its second reading in the Lords. The Bill, which sets up internal arrangements for trading after the Brexit transition period ends, has been heavily criticised for breaking international law, something that the Government has admitted, and reversing the devolution of power in the UK. “What we are above all called to do in this country, deeply embedded in our Christian culture and history, is to act justly and honestly,” the Archbishop told peers. “We cannot do so if we openly speak of breaking a treaty under international law reached at properly on which peace in part of the UK relies”’ (Church Times 20 October 2020). 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
Faithful Lord, 
whose steadfast love never ceases 
and whose mercies never come to an end: 
grant us the grace to trust you 
and to receive the gifts of your love, 
new every morning, 
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who assist with our services. The format and delivery of our services may have had to change over this year, but we still gather together to worship God in whatever way we can and as best we can. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for politicians and their advisors. There appears to be increasing division as the effects of the pandemic are felt unevenly across the country. We pray for a true spirit of generosity and a desire to ensure that all are treated with equal respect and value. 
 
The world was created on Sunday 23rd October 4004 BC at 9 a.m. This was the conclusion of the 17th century divine James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh. He calculated this from key events recorded in the Bible. This date was widely accepted in the Western world until the 19th century. 
 
Finally: I remind you that the clocks go back on Saturday night as British summer time comes to an end – so we all get any extra hour in bed! 
Wednesday 21st October 2020 
 
'Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places' (Ephesians 3:7-10). 
 
We have the privilege of sharing the good news - the boundless riches of Christ. Paul here calls himself a diakonos, a minister according to the gift of the grace of God. It is possible that the word has its origin in a similar Greek word, diakonis, which means "running through dust." In the Roman world, servants would run errands for their masters through the dusty streets. We too are servants of the gospel called to run through the dust 'so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known'. 
 
'The Archbishop of York, newly enthroned in York Minster, has spoken of the "hope, relief, and practical help" that the Church has brought to communities affected by the coronavirus. In the sermon during his enthronement service on Sunday, he referred to the uncertainty and fear felt by many, especially those in the north, and paid tribute to the work carried out by the National Health Service. He put this in the context of one of his predecessors. "This is a time of huge challenge, uncertainty, and fearfulness in our world. I am conscious that I'm standing in the shoes of some very great forebears, not least a man like William Temple, who, during the darkest hours of the Second World War, with others, dreamed of what the peace may look like, and how literally devastated cities would be rebuilt; but also a moral vision for the rebuilding of a nation. "He was one of the architects of that post-war consensus that gave birth to a welfare state, and to that NHS that we stood out on the streets and clapped every Thursday evening during the hardest days of lockdown," he said' (Church Times 19 October 2020). 
 
The collect for this week: 
O God, forasmuch as without you 
we are not able to please you; 
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit 
may in all things direct and rule our hearts; 
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/) 
 
I will be using a simple order for Morning Prayer in Church this morning, together with our Roads to God prayers. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all ministers in the village. Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for all visitors to our Churches. 
 
'What the Church brings, its USP, is all the kind of weird stuff. If you regard Jesus as just an enlightened teacher, then, ultimately, he's no different to philosophers, teachers from other periods of history... But if what the Gospels, the New Testament, the Church teaches is true, then the strangeness is so strange that it must surely animate everything that Christians say about the figure of Jesus' (Tom Holland, Church Times podcast) 
 
On 21st October 1805 a fleet of 33 ships (18 French and 15 Spanish) under Admiral Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve fought and was defeated by a British fleet of 27 ships under Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar (combat was waged west of Cape Trafalgar, Spain). So, as we approach Remembrance Day in a couple of weeks, we pray for all those who have lost loved ones or been injured through war - especially at sea. 
Sunday 18th October 2020 
 
‘Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:6-9). 
 
We need to listen attentively to God. We should seek to know him and to learn what is good. However as our understanding grows we must beware the temptation to think that we know better. ‘God took a huge risk in making a world that is other than himself, and we live with the resultant questions of who causes what. The answer probably doesn’t lie in philosophical argument or any form of human wisdom, but in flesh and blood, both Jesus’ and ours. It’s in our own experience that we know both God’s ways and our ways are honoured, both God’s freedom and ours are fully in play’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 15 October 2020). 
 
Today we remember St Luke - gospel writer, doctor and missionary - and so bring before God our own witness and the healing ministry of the Church. He was the author of Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, a companion of St Paul, and the most literary of the New Testament writers. We know little about his life expect from Paul’s letters from which we learn that he was a physician and a Gentile and that he accompanied Paul on several missionary journeys. Luke's gospel shows a special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles, and the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan. 
 
‘Episcopalians in the United States have been urged by their Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, to “shine a light against the darkness” of the increasing coronavirus cases and the divisions over race and the presidency. The Church’s Executive Council met via Zoom this week.. In an opening address that referred to the divisions of race as well as politics, Bishop Curry said: “We are meeting in the midst of some pretty difficult times. Now is not the time to hide this light under the bushel. Now is the time to lift up this light... this light that we’ve gotten from Jesus, and let it shine - even, and in spite of, whatever may happen around us”’ (Church Times 16 October 2020). 
 
The Revd Canon Jane Charman is being inducted today as Rector of the Cockermouth Area Team. We pray for her, together with the Revd Canon Bill Rogers, Matilda and Trelawny in their new home and as they start this new time in their lives and ministry. 
 
The collect for today: 
Almighty God, 
you called Luke the physician, 
whose praise is in the gospel, 
to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: 
by the grace of the Spirit 
and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, 
give your Church the same love and power to heal; 
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/) 
 
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 today at 10:30am we are having a short service of Holy Communion in Church - and the church bells will be ringing from 10 o’clock. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for all who minister to the sick. There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for Bishop Nicholas. On Tuesday we pray for peace in the world. 
Friday 16th October 2020 
 
‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows’ (Luke 12:6-7). 
 
It is good to remember in these difficult times that God loves and cares for us. In our complex and often confusing world it is all too easy to think that our lives, hopes, fear and aspirations are of little consequence or interest to those who make the decisions. Yet to God we are, each one of us, very important and greatly loved. We matter to him for ourselves - that individual, unique person that we are - rather than simply for what we might become or in our economic contribution to society. 
 
We respond in faith and love. ‘Something attracted us to move from nominal faith, or being outside faith altogether, to being serious about it.. So are we being faithful to that original heavenly vision that we were given, or have we let it drift into conventional religiosity? Discipleship has been defined as ‘long obedience in the same direction’. The precise nature of the heavenly vision will vary from person to person, but the overall direction is always the same - it’s towards Jesus Christ’ (Reflections for Daily Prayer, 12 October 2020). 
 
This is the Week of Prayer for World Peace. ‘This interfaith event has taken place each October since 1974. It began with 'A Call to Prayer for World Peace' which was signed by many Faith Leaders, including Lord George Macleod, Trevor Huddleston, Kenneth Slack and Bishop Wilfrid Westall. They wrote: 'Believing that God is calling us to pray with new purpose and deeper understanding for peace and justice among all people, we invite our fellow believers of all faiths to join in a Week of Prayer for World Peace.' (Churches Together in England). 
 
As the new wave of COVID-19 begins to make itself felt, there appear to be indications that there may be a greater incidence of it locally than earlier in the year (I have heard of more than one instance recently, including that at The Goat). We hold our whole community in prayer before God and seek to help one another to keep safe and in practical ways. As yet there is no indication that this will affect our worship, but we must be careful and prepared. I will continue to keep you informed as best I can. 
 
The alternative collect for this week: 
God, our judge and saviour, 
teach us to be open to your truth 
and to trust in your love, 
that we may live each day 
with confidence in the salvation which is given 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(https://www.churchofengland.org/) 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for the bereaved, remembering especially those who cannot have their loved ones with them in their last hours, and those relatives and friends who are unable to attend a funeral. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for charities struggling to continue their work and fundraising. Many are battling to survive and nearly all are struggling to find the funds they need for their work. This affects not only those unable to receive their help but the jobs of their employees. 
 
On 16th October 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, the Reformation Bishops Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake for refusing to recant their faith. Latimer immortalized himself by exhorting Ridley with the words “we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out.” 
 
There was another fire on 16th October 1834 when the Houses of Parliament burnt down. This wasn’t the action of enraged constituents but probably started by porters burning used tally sticks. 
 
‘No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). 
Wednesday 14th October 2020 
 
‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things’ (Galatians 5:22-23). 
 
This wonderfully complements the passage from the letter to the Philippians we had on Sunday. The way we live should reflect the Spirit at work within us. If we allow God to rule in our lives, then his fruit will develop and grow within us. As Jesus tells us ‘every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit’ (Matthew 7:17-18). 
 
Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting, which was postponed in April due to the lockdown, will be held in church on Sunday 25th October following the morning service. The AGM reports are now up in Church in the south aisle for us to read. You can do this while the church is open on a Wednesday morning, or after the service on Sunday. 
 
‘The Church of England’s Advent and Christmas campaign for 2020, Comfort and Joy, has been launched with a special purpose to console people who are suffering because of the pandemic and may not be in the mood for “jubilation”. The C of E website says: “Comfort and Joy holds together the hope that Christmas will bring joy and celebration after a uniquely difficult year with an acknowledgement that — for those who have lost loved ones or livelihoods, or who are potentially still not able to be together with loved ones — it may be the Church’s role, both nationally and locally, to provide consolation, rather than assume everyone will be ready to join in jubilation. We also have to anticipate there may be further spikes.” It asks the Church to draw on St Paul’s words in Romans 12.15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” It continues: “We will aim to celebrate where we can together in one place - but also embrace a wider community that wants to join in the celebration but may not be physically able - or emotionally ready - to do so. We hope that Comfort and Joy will enable us to build a campaign that both enables us to reconnect with the rich and joyous traditions of the past and to offer God’s consoling love in the present.”’ (Church Times 9 October 2020). 
 
Let me share with you the prayer from Branksome St Aldhelm in our Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: 
We give thanks for the open doors of our awesome church building; 
we pray for open minds in all who enter those doors; 
and we pray that all of us be more and more open to God 
and to his generous possibilities for us and for our world. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for Churches Together in Downton - for our shared witness as God’s people here. 
 
I shall be using simple order for Morning Prayer in Church at 10:30am. I shall ring the bell and ask you to join me in prayer from your homes. 
 
Tomorrow there is no Reflection. In our Parish Prayer Diary we will be praying for those at work worried about social distancing. Many people have no choice about how they work and must accept the hazards of their workplace in order to pay for the necessities of life. 
Also tomorrow the Church remembers St. Teresa of Ávila, who in a time of great change and upheaval pointed the way from outer turmoil to inner peace. ‘St. Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, original name Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, (born March 28, 1515, Ávila, Spain - died October 4, 1582, Alba de Tormes; canonized 1622; feast day October 15), Spanish nun, one of the great mystics and religious women of the Roman Catholic Church, and author of spiritual classics. She was the originator of the Carmelite Reform, which restored and emphasized the austerity and contemplative character of primitive Carmelite life. St. Teresa was elevated to doctor of the church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, the first woman to be so honoured’ (https://www.britannica.com/)
 
On a lighter note: 14th October 1926 marked the literary debut of Winnie-the-Pooh, when he first appeared in a collection of short stories by A.A. Milne. The book followed his adventures in the forest with his friends Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, and Eeyore. 
Sunday 11th October 2020 
 
‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ (Philippians 4:8). 
 
Here in his letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul gives us a wonderful checklist against which we can measure our own actions and intent - by focussing our thoughts firmly on Godly values. He is not talking here about the power of positive thinking, but rather exhorts us always to seek that which is right and good and true. If these are at the forefront of our minds then Godly living should follow. 
 
‘Pope Francis has reaffirmed a link between religious faith and human dignity in his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: On fraternity and social friendship, and confirmed his Church’s unconditional rejection of war, capital punishment, and excessive wealth. He calls on Christians to back policies that promote justice and the common good. “For decades, it seemed the world had learned a lesson from its many wars and disasters, and was slowly moving towards various forms of integration,” the encyclical observes. “Our own days, however, seem to be showing signs of a certain regression. Ancient conflicts thought long buried are breaking out anew, while instances of a myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism are on the rise.” The 40,000-word letter was signed in Assisi and published last weekend. Pope Francis’s third encyclical, it claims inspiration from the “fraternal openness” espoused by St Francis, who died in 1226. It says that faith in God has “concrete consequences” for the ways in which people take decisions and treat one another’ (Church Times 9 October 2020). 
If you wish to read the full encyclical, you can find it here
 
The collect for this week: 
Almighty and everlasting God, 
increase in us your gift of faith 
that, forsaking what lies behind 
and reaching out to that which is before, 
we may run the way of your commandments 
and win the crown of everlasting joy; 
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/) 
 
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 today at 10:30am we are having a short service of Holy Communion in Church - and the church bells will be ringing from 10 o’clock. 
 
In our Parish Prayer Diary for today we pray for our Parochial Church Council (PCC). Together we are responsible for guiding our church and making decisions on behalf of all - and we value your prayerful support as we seek to do this. 
 
There is no Reflection on Monday and Tuesday. In our Parish Prayer Diary we pray on Monday for the Barford Day Centre. On Tuesday we pray for our Church School, which as just appointed a new Deputy Head. 
 
On 11th October 1962 Pope John XXIII convened an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church - the first in 92 years. In summoning the ecumenical council (Vatican II - a general meeting of the bishops of the church) the pope hoped to bring spiritual rebirth to Catholicism and cultivate greater unity with the other branches of Christianity. 
 
‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened’ (Winston S. Churchill). 
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