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13th June from Rev'd Samantha - Trinity 2





Dear Friends,
This week once again I am experiencing a double response to receiving (my second dose of) the Covid Vaccine. Again I have had flu like side effects and my energy is low this weekend, but again I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to receive it and to live in a country where this has been easily possible. I back all the statements made by religious and health leaders for the swift achievement of vaccine equity across or world. Christian Aid has a “Give thanks for your vaccine” appeal to support this, which Bishop Jackie is promoting:
https://exeter.anglican.org/bishop-of-crediton-backs-calls-for-global-covid-19-vaccine-equity/
As this Trinity season invites us in to growth it is appropriate to reflect on the second aim in the diocesan vision, which is “growing disciples”. Disciples are those who learn, and for Christians that means those who learn from Jesus how to be Christ-like by following him, and draw others to do the same. We each grow in discipleship as we learn how to be more like Christ in the world that we live in, responding to its challenges with his guidance. This week the diocesan newsletter, Roots and Shoots, which I commend to you all to sign up includes lots of opportunities to learn more about Christian responses to issues around us in the world. Why not give some time to looking and learning about these:
https://mailchi.mp/f8736e497936/welcome-to-our-new-shoots-newsletter-4781026
Growing in prayer suggestion for this week:
There are still spaces along the coast to join South West Awake The Church of England in Devon is joining other churches in the region in an attempt to have people praying along every mile of the whole South West Coast path on the same day at the same time. The socially distant “chain of prayer and praise” is on 19 June at 10.30am
Have a look at your area on the map and sign up to help complete the chain.
A reminder of services this weekend (13th June):
9am Martinhoe Holy Communion (BCP)
11am Lynton Holy Communion (Common Worship 1)

For June 20th:
9am Parracombe Morning worship (self led)
11am Lynton Holy Communion (Common Worship 1)

I will be taking a few days of annual leave next week (16th – 21st June)
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Trinity 2

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text








6th June from Rev'd Samantha - Trinity 1





Dear Friends,
This month we begin the new pattern of face to face church services across the Mission Community. I would like to register thanks to the team who helped get the Lynton service up and running and all who have maintained worship there while other churches were less accessible, and now to all who are preparing carefully for Covid compliant services in their local church. I’ll attach the service pattern again so that everyone knows where services are taking place each week. Why not sample worship in a church beyond your parish on a week when there is not a service there?
This week’s suggestion for growing in prayer: prayer is the action of opening our lives to the presence and guidance of God for which we are created. Our communal worship provides a good pattern for the different aspects of prayer that might become godly habits in our lives. Our experience of communion offers a sign of prayer at its simplest and deepest – coming into union with God; we intercede for the world aligning our hopes and fears with God’s will for the life of the world and crying out for transformation; we pray for forgiveness, for a clearing of all that impedes our relationship with God; and we offer thanksgiving and praise, recognising our dependence on God, and expressing our wonder.
Knowing that we pray with others can be something encouraging and strengthening. I’d like to suggest that we develop a Mission Community prayer calendar with something to pray for each day. To start I suggest that each day we pray for a different parish:
Sunday: the whole Mission Community
Monday: Brendon
Tuesday: Countisbury and Lynmouth
Wednesday: Lynmouth and Barbrook
Thursday: Parracombe
Friday: Martinhoe
Saturday: Trentishoe
If anyone would like to be involved in taking this deeper and coming up with ideas for prayer within each parish or more widely, do get in touch.
God bless
Samantha
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



30th May from Rev'd Samantha - Trinity Sunday





Dear Friends,
This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday and enter the green season of the church year: the “green growing season” as I have called it before. In my sermon I am reflecting on a beautiful hymn:
“I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity”
It has its roots in the ancient church of these isles and is attributed to St Patrick. The people of those times knew the fragility of life and the reality of their dependence on something beyond themselves: whether that be weather patterns, fertility of the land, or the God of Jesus Christ who St Patrick preached. The hymn talks of binding faith in the Trinity to us as a protection and security. Having lived through a year that reminds us that for all the sophistication of our technology we still have fragility and dependence in common with our forebears, perhaps the hymn offers us a reminder that binding our faith in the Trinity to us is a gift for us now too.
Our Annual Parochial Church meetings have given a chance to look at the strengths and fragilities of each of our churches after a difficult year, and the adapting that is necessary in some places to help us shape a sustainable future. When we remember our faith is in God the Holy Trinity, we are offered the presence of God as the stability and steadfastness we crave, and the guide and power of change we need, so as we enter the green growing season, let’s bind to ourselves a trust in God’s presence through all seasons.
The Diocesan Vision has a threefold pattern to guide our growing too. In coming weeks I am going to use in in these letters to encourage us to think together about the habits that shape our life of faith.
Growing in Prayer
Growing in Discipleship
Growing in Serving our communities with joy
• Looking back over the last year – how have you grown in any of these?
• What do you need to grow in these habits now?
• Which of these are you most drawn to as a habit you value and could help others grow in the future?
I am glad that we have been able to draft a new monthly Sunday service pattern, which I attach with this letter too. I look forward to returning more fully to our life of in-person worship in the coming months as well as continuing to send this mailing out each week – it is good to be able to be in weekly contact this way too.
God bless
Samantha


Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Trinity

Prayers & Reflection Text
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23rd May from Rev'd Samantha - Pentecost





Dear Friends,
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the church with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that so filled the apostles that they left the security of the upper room for good and set out into the life Jesus had called them to as witnesses of his love.
It is fitting that at St Mary’s we will be celebrating Marilyn’s particular calling to ordained life as we thank her for her placement with us, and pray for her as she prepares to take up her curacy in Culloumpton. Marilyn’s enthusiasm for sharing the love of Jesus, her warmth and care for others, and her trust in the path God is setting before her exemplifies a Pentecost faith and I have no doubt she will be a real gift to the communities that she will serve in time to come. Please keep Marilyn and her family in your prayers through this time of change and adjustment.
In the midst of a couple of weeks of the formal parts of APCM’s it is a good time for us to be praying for all who serve across the Mission Community on our PCCs. After a challenging year we look forward to more opportunities to meet in person and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the way we step out beyond our walls and notice what we already have to share with the communities we are part of.
In the meantime, while we haven’t been able to organise a group prayer walk for Pentecost this year, perhaps you could individually let the Holy Spirit guide a walk in your locality, or an imaginative journey through things that are important to you, praying for the renewing presence of the Spirit in all things, God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Pentecost

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text





2nd May from Rev'd Samantha - Fifth Sunday of Easter





Dear friends,
As we travel deeper into the Easter mystery in these last weeks of the Eastertide, we are offered the images that Jesus gives us for himself, and our relationship with him – helping us to recognise that the resurrection is not just an historic event we say we believe, but the power of new life given to us so we can flourish and be fruitful now in the confidence that his life is stronger than death.
Today’s image is that of Jesus the true vine, and us as branches bearing fruit which the Father prunes to bring greater abundance. As I will explore in my sermon, this image invites us to notice how we are kept in life by God and in relationship with Jesus: all is gift, we do not keep ourselves in being, and to notice that we are the glory of God when we bear fruit in our lives, and God is a pruning vinegrower for this purpose: sometimes there is a calling to let go of things in order for our energy to be carefully directed at what is essential for fruit. In this spirit, the virtues that shape the vision for the Church of England in the coming decade are that we become a: simpler, humbler, bolder church.
As we turn towards the celebration of Pentecost, later this month, it is a good time to reflect on what each of us needs to let go of now, to make space for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, helping us to bear God’s fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Fifth Sunday of Easter

Prayers & Reflection Text
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25th April from Rev'd Samantha - Fourth Sunday of Easter





Dear friends,
April 25th is Vocations Sunday, which encourages each of us to think about how our lives are a response to being known and called by God. As Christians we are all being called to focus our lives on the knowledge that we are created by God: for a relationship with God which is rooted in prayer and worship; for a relationship with others which shares that love, and the truth that all creation is made and held in being by God and our fullest flourishing can be experienced when we are conscious of that relationship; and to express that love in the service of other people and our planet. What that calling means for each one of us will be different – as each of us has our own role in the body of Christ – and as we mature and life changes, the way we express that calling may change too.
As we begin to return to more outward activity in our churches it is a good time to review the activity and organisation of church life to enable us to be sustainable and to be fully focused on our reason for coming together: to worship God, draw others into our life together as Jesus’ disciples and to serve our communities. At a personal level it is also a good time to review your own contribution to the life of the Christian community which you enjoy. It is a time for each of us to listen for Jesus’ guidance about where we are called to give our time, talents, energy, money and prayer in the ways we are gifted now, presently, without anxiety that it might be different from the past. We need to pool our current talents, and vocations to be the churches of the Lyn Valley Jesus is calling us to be today. You might like to listen to a brief introduction to the courses to support varied church roles that the diocese now provides to give some ideas of the kind of things that are vocational tasks, and how you can be supported in pursuing them, or to come up with creative ideas of your own:
https://exeter.anglican.org/ministry/lay-ministry/lay-learning/
Because we have to complete our APCMs before it will be possible to gather in person in numbers, the APCM’s will be held online with only essential business, adjourning much to a date later in the summer when we can all meet in person (God willing). These later meetings will be a good opportunity to explore together how we shape our church life according to what each of us is called to share, so I really encourage everyone to spend some time wondering about how life in the church enables you to flourish as the person God made you to be, and how you in turn can encourage others to flourish in a church which values everyone’s gifts. God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Fourth Sunday of Easter

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text





18th April from Rev'd Samantha - Third Sunday of Easter





Dear Friends,
In preparation for watching the reflection for today I would encourage you to reflect on all that has been life-giving this week for you. If it has been a hard week, where has the strength come to get through it; if it has felt like a good week, what are you particular sources of joy? Let’s pray for the grace to be open to receiving life from God in the daily circumstances of our lives.
This week I have started conversations with Church Wardens about returning to worship across the Mission Community. From Palm Sunday onwards the 11am Eucharist at St Mary’s Lynton is continuing and we are developing a new pattern of initially one Sunday service a month in other parishes who feel ready to host services again. Juggling the hopes and practicalities of six parishes takes time, but we will keep you informed as the new service pattern takes shape. Similarly, arrangements for virtual APCMs (which by law have to be completed before physical distancing restrictions are lifted) will be forthcoming shortly. It is also important that you know of new arrangements for reporting any Safeguarding concerns should they arise within the Mission Community. They should now be reported in the first instance directly to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team:
Name: Diocesan Safeguarding Team

Contact: 01392 345909 or 01392 294975

Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Marilyn, who has been on placement with us through this unusual year, have, I know really been valuing her Bible Study and more recently her Coffee Morning on Zoom. Marilyn will need to prepare to move to her curacy so we have decided to make Pentecost Sunday (23rd May) her final Sunday with us, and we will send her out with prayer and blessing at the 11 am Eucharist at St Mary’s – so put that in your diary and come and support her if you can.
Finally, I need a bit of replenishment to renew my openness to God’s liFe in the midst of daily life too (it is always good to practice what you preach!), so I am going to take a few days of Annual Leave in the coming week. If you need to contact me about anything urgent, please could you do so over this weekend, or wait until next weekend when I will return to emails and the phone!
God bless,
Samantha
Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Third Sunday of Easter

Prayers & Reflection Text
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11th April from Rev'd Samantha - Second Sunday of Easter




Dear Friends,
The thoughts of many in our nation will be with our Queen and her family this weekend following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. We pray for the repose of his soul and for the comforting of those who mourn. In tributes paid by church leaders, his deep faith was mentioned repeatedly, as something he shared with our Queen. We pray that at this Eastertide, the gospel of resurrection will be her solace.
Our Gospel this week reminds us that Jesus offers us peace even when we feel shut away, afraid, or that we have missed something important. I pray that we may know this peace across our communities during this time of the next step on the “roadmap” to things opening: peace in the hearts of those opening anew, in the hearts of those choosing to travel and holiday in self-catering facilities and peace in the hearts of all who find all this makes them anxious.
God bless,
Samantha

Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Second Sunday of Easter

Prayers & Reflection Text
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I know that many who have lived here longer than me will have memories of the Duke's visit to Lynmouth to mark the 50th anniversary of the Flood, following up from his first vist here to express concern in its aftermath.
If you would like to offer your condolences on the death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh, the Church of England has opened a “virtual” Book of Condolences which you can find here:
https://www.churchofengland.org/
Bishop Robert has also recorded a message which you can find on the diocesan website. There will be civic commemorative services at Exeter Cathedral, St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth and Paignton Parish Church led by the Bishop of Exeter, Bishop of Plymouth and Bishop of Crediton respectively. The date of these services has not yet been confirmed but the latest updates on these arrangements will be published here:
https://exeter.anglican.org/resources/commemorating-the-death-of-the-duke-of-edinburgh/

God of our lives,
we give thanks for the life of Prince Philip,
for his love of our country,
and for his devotion to duty.
We entrust him now to your love and mercy,
through our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.

Merciful God, be close to all who mourn,
especially The Queen and all members of the Royal Family.
May they know the comfort of your love,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.







4th April from Rev'd Samantha - Easter Day





Dear Friends,
St Augustine said “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!” so while we may not be able to sing communally in church this year, I pray that as Easter Day dawns whether as you celebrate the vigil or early in the morning at Countisbury with Revd Jean, in church at Parracombe or Lynton, through the morning or at home, wherever across the world you are this Easter (God bless those of you in the US and Thailand) your heart will sing with alleluias. If you are coming to the Easter services in Lynton or Parracombe, I have a favour to ask. Traditionally we sing the Gloria on Easter Sunday after long weeks of Lent without it and there is also a tradition at Easter of ringing bells, or making a noise with ringing instruments during the Gloria too. As we can’t sing, I wondered if people would be willing to bring any bells/tambourines/ things you can make a noise with…to accompany us as we say the words of this ancient song of praise to God! Maybe if you are using this video at home you could join in with such music/joyful noise making too!
My prayers for you all are that this Easter opens you to a deeper awareness of the love in which God holds you, the fullness of life God wills for you and the peace of heart God offers you.
God bless
Alleluia Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia
Samantha
Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Easter Day
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



2nd April from Rev'd Samantha - Good Friday





Dear Friends,
The theme of my reflection for today is “solidarity”.
This year we have seen many examples of the outpouring of solidarity – recognition that we have more in common than difference- in the face of virus that does not discriminate.
On Good Friday Jesus reveals God’s glory, as he offers his own deepest solidarity with our world. If you are marking Good Friday at home, you may like to find a cross or a crucifix to focus a time of prayer after listening to or reading my reflection. (The final poem is another by Malcolm Guite (details on the attached text). His website generously offers unlimited use of his work. You can listen to his reading of his own poetry and find details of his published work there if you would like to go deeper into his reflections).
God bless
Samantha

Good Friday Reflection
Good Friday Text



1st April from Rev'd Samantha - Maundy Thursday





Dear Friends,
The video is a brief reflection for the evening of Maundy Thursday.
I've also included the text, readings from the evening Eucharist and the Order of Service we will be using in the evening so if you are at home you can use some of the prayers.
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short reflection for Maundy Thursday
Reading Text
Gospel Text
Reflection Text




27th March from Rev'd Samantha - Palm Sunday





Dear Friends,
Yesterday I received the first of my Covid 19 vaccinations. I found it an unexpectedly moving and profound experience. As I received it I had an awareness of the connective web of endeavour that we are all a part, and found myself praying and giving thanks for the sacrificial determination of the scientists who have developed the vaccine (knowing only too well from friends what long hours and demand lab work calls for), giving thanks for the cheerful volunteers who around me whose warmth and kindness really mattered, praying for the people I will never meet, but for whom access to vaccines is not as easy as this is for us, in countries where life is much harder too, and above all opening myself to the recognition that we are all one in this corporate effort to make our communities safer from disease by developing immunity ourselves.
Six hours later it was clear that I was going to be one of those who experience the possible feverish side effects of the vaccine quite fully! Today then, I am still recovering so it seems wise to get the prayers and liturgy for Palm Sunday out to you all without trying to record a video. I am sorry to disappoint those for whom this has become an important part of worship at home, and if, over the weeknd I am able to, I will try to send a recording out later. As Holy Week unfolds I will be sending short reflections out too.
God bless
Samantha
Prayers & Reflection Text
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21st March from Rev'd Samantha - Day of Reflection





Dear Friends,
A reminder and encouragement to join in with today's day of reflection with your prayers and love. We hold in our prayers all who have and are suffering in this pandemic, all who have died and all who are bereaved.
Who can you make contact with today to tell them you are thinking of them, to thank them for their support through the last year, or to bring company and encouragement?

The Church of England offers us these prayers as a place to start. Be assured of my prayers for you today God bless
Samantha


Reflect
Loving God,
You hold all our times in your hands, our past, our present, our future. Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year. Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether family, friend, colleague or neighbour. Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence.

Connect
Loving God,
You place us in families and communities, and we give you thanks for all those around us who serve us and help us in so many ways. Give wisdom to community leaders, to our schools, hospitals, care homes and other agencies who make a difference to our lives. Help each of us to have the courage to reach out with thanks and kindness to those around us and to speak words of faith as we share the good news of your love.

Hope
Loving God,
As we journey towards Easter, help us to live as people of hope, knowing that beyond the pain of the cross lies the joy of resurrection. Inspire us in our worship, through our churches and in our homes, that we may bring glory to you and joy to others. Be with those who are struggling in mind, body or spirit, and give courage to those who are facing uncertainty and change ahead. Help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on you, that we may reflect your light to all whom we meet.

Prayers
Dear God,
Be with us as we think about all that has changed this year,
And help us to trust that you are always with us.
Be close to us as we remember those who have died,
And help us to trust they are at peace with you.
Show us how to reach out to others with kindness and care,
So that hope shines out in every heart and home,
Amen

God of Love,
As we think about all that has changed this year,
help us to trust that you are always with us.
As we remember those who have died,
help us to trust they are at peace with you.
As we reach out to others with kindness and care,
may hope shine out in every heart and home.
Amen





21st Febuary from Rev'd Samantha - Lent 1





Dear Friends,
In this Sunday’s gospel we are given a summary of Jesus experiences of baptism and temptation and the joyful message that emerges from them as he brings his mission to the world. What I have begun to explore in my sermon is how Jesus’ experience of his relationship with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit gives him his secure conviction that he shares “good news”. Today I read the following quote from Howard Thurman who is talking about a human experience of such conviction:
One night I was awakened by my mother, who asked if I would like to see the comet [Halley’s Comet]. I got up, dressed quickly, and went out with her into the back yard. There I saw in the heavens the awesome tail of the comet and stood transfixed. With deep anxiety I asked, without taking my eyes off it, “What will happen to us when that thing falls out of the sky?” There was a long silence during which I felt the gentle pressure of her fingers on my shoulders; then I looked into her face and saw what I had seen on another occasion, when without knocking I had rushed into her room and found her in prayer. At last she said, “Nothing will happen to us, Howard. God will take care of us.” In that moment something was touched and kindled in me, a quiet reassurance that has never quite deserted me. As I look back on it, what I sensed then was the fact that what stirred in me was one with what created and controlled the comet. It was this inarticulate awareness that silenced my fear and stilled my panic.
Here at once is the primary ground and basis of people’s experience of prayer. I am calling it, for the purpose of this discussion, the “givenness of God” as expressed in the hunger of the heart. This is native to personality, and when it becomes part of a person’s conscious focus it is prayer at its best and highest. It is the movement of the heart of a person toward God; a movement that in a sense is within God—God in the heart sharing its life with God the Creator of all Life. The hunger itself is God, calling to God.
It is my prayer that in the challenges of this time, Lent will give us the space to recognise the movement of God in our own hearts and lives. Many of you will know that my own prayer life is guided by the Ignatian tradition – on this first Sunday of Lent the morning service on Radio 4 (8.10 Sunday morning) explores the temptations of Jesus in the light of the wisdom of this tradition (more details and links to supporting information can be found here:
https://www.jesuit.org.uk/join-us-first-sunday-lent-bbc-radio-4
God bless

Here is the link to my Youtube recording of short service for Lent 1
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text




17th Febuary from Rev'd Samantha - Ash Wednesday




Dear friends,
It was midway through Lent last year that we first experienced what we now call “lockdown”. As we reach Ash Wednesday this year, we can look back over almost a year or restrictions to the way we live that have a lot of the qualities of a very long Lent – giving things up for a greater purpose than our own satisfaction and sacrificing what we often have enjoyed for the wellbeing of others. THis Lent then, our observance may be about giving that meaning to the daily life choices we currently make – offering to God and our neighbour the “not doing” that is necessary now.
Traditionally there have been three main Lenten practices: almsgiving, fasting and prayer.
This year, I suggest they remain a very good way to keep a holy Lent, and they have particular resonance in all that we are experiencing. After a year with a very limited number of services, restricted fundraising and no visitors’ gifts, but continued upkeep expenses, the finanancial situation of each of our churches is extremely stretched. Any extra “almsgiving” you are able to offer to your church this Lent will be essential to being able to continue the ministry that each parish church offers its community in the months to come.
We are coming up to Fair Trade Fortnight (22nd February to 7th March) which is a good reminder to us to think about what we consume and the effects of our food choices on those who produce our food (both locally and abroad). Might this year’s “fasting” be about limiting how we consume to products where producers are fully supported and our environment is honoured?
As we await the return to worshipping in church together, our personal prayer is also one way of being united with one another in faith. As we pray for our world and our local community we offer what we can for the transformation of all that we are living through. In our Sunday reflections we pray generally for all who are in need rather than for individuals by name so as to maintain people’s privacy, but I would encourage each one of us to take time to pray by name for those who we each know need our prayers. I know that many people have used the extra time inside to deepen their own relationship with God in prayer, or found inspiration as they pray on a walk or in the garden – using Lent as a time to reconnect with these practices is a great opportunity.
The reflection I have recorded is the liturgy offered by the Church of England for Ash Wednesday – it offers an opportunity to start Lent well, handing over to God all that gets in the way of God’s love, and opening our hearts to reconciliation and life.
May God bless you and guide your way through this Holy season
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of for Ash Wednesday



14th Febuary from Marilyn - Sunday next before Lent





I read this scripture this morning and it has reminded me that in the midst of a world that appears at times to be in chaos, God is still faithful.
Psalm 116:7
‘Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.’

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Sunday next before Lent

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text




7th Febuary from Rev'd Laurence - 2nd Sunday before Lent





This weeks text service comes from Rev'd Laurence

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text




31st January from Rev'd Samantha - Candlemas





Dear Friends,
This weekend we are marking Candlemas - the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
Its a feast where the words of Simeon that Jesus is "light to the nations" are symbolised by the lighting of candles. In my sermon I have used some of the special liturgy for this feast for a time of prayerful reflection. If you have a candle that you can light as you watch or read today's act of worship it may deepen your experience of the prayers. May Jesus, the light of the world, be reflected in our homes and in our lives in all that we do and say this week, God bless Samantha Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Candlemas
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Here is a beautiful short sung version of the Nunc Dimittis




24th January from Rev'd Samantha - Epiphany 3




Dear Friends,
In this week's thoughts I have focused on how we are drawn by Jesus into our own roles in transforming the creation through his love.
I have been part of a diocesan group looking at how we might reflect on our experiences of the last year in the light of our faith, and how our faith might be challenged or deepened by these experiences. It has resulted in a Lent Course for the diocese: "These are our stories" which I hope we might be able to use in this Mission Community so look out for that if you are interested , in weeks to come.
In the meantime, we can be part of God's action in the world by our willingness to listen, to seek out those who need company even by phone, and in our prayers.
May God bless each of us as instruments of his grace in the coming week.
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Epiphany 3
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



17th January from Rev'd Samantha - Epiphany 2



Dear Friends,
I echo the announcement made at Exeter Cathedral, that it is with a "heavy heart" we have decided that it is wise to suspend public services across our Mission Community for the time being. I am grateful to all who have enabled us to put good practices in place to follow all the guidelines at Lynton, but with notable anxiety around the village I think the context within which we were meeting has changed and, along with the two Mission Communities either side of us, it is time for renewed caution.
We had already made a decision not to hold the annual Plough Sunday Service at Parracombe which should have taken place this weekend. It’s one of the times in the church year when we are able to express our gratitude for all those who farm our land, and God’s provision of all the fruit of the earth. I have included prayers at the end of today’s service that we could all pray this week to remember our dependence on the land.
Marilyn, who is training with us, had also already decided that it would be unwise for her to be travelling from Barnstaple to join us at the moment, but she is very keen to contribute to our life and to try to get to know people as well as is possible currently, so here are some ways that might happen, in her words:
Bible Studies Leading up to Lent: I will be running a bible study via zoom for 4 weeks every Thursday at 11am. Each week we will be looking at the scripture for the following Sunday, as follows:
Thursday 21st January – John 2:1-11 ‘The Wedding at Cana’
Thursday 28th January – Luke 2:22-40 ‘Jesus being presented at the Temple.’
Thursday 4th February – John 1:1-14 ‘In the beginning was the Word’
Thursday 11th February – Mark 9:2-9 ‘The Transfiguration’
It would be lovely if you would join me! This will be a very easy-going time to look through the passage of scripture and learn together. If you would like to come along, let me know and I will send you out a zoom link.

Coffee Morning: I will be running a zoom coffee morning every on Wednesdays at 10am, starting on Wednesday 27th January. This will be a very relaxed get together, for about half an hour. A time to get a cup of tea or coffee at home and sit and catch up with friends that we have missed! If you would like to join me, let me know and I will send you a link.
Email: marilyn-sanders@hotmail.co.uk
Phone: 07737674399
*If you need any help at all with working out how to use zoom, please contact me and I will help you. It is easy, I promise!
I know that she is very keen to chat with anyone who would like to by phone too, so if a call from a very friendly person would brighten your day, or you would like to help Marilyn get to know more about us while she can’t visit, do pick up the phone or contact me and let me pass her your number (Her days of ministry with us are Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday)
Let’s hold our communities in our prayers during this period of restrictions which many are finding the most difficult yet. We give thanks for all who are working in health and caring professions, and for all who, in more hidden ways, are supporting us all. All that we can do at this time to look out for one another, encourage one another, and act in ways that keep others safe, is our way to love our neighbours and put our love for God into practice.
Be assured of my prayers for you all,
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Epiphany 2
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text





9th January from Rev'd Samantha - Epiphany




Dear Friends,
Right at the heart of the celebration of the Epiphany is the fact that the homage paid by the wise men, opening their treasure chests and worshipping Jesus happens in the house where Mary and Joseph are caring for Jesus. It strikes me this is something to focus on in our slightly belated celebration of the feast this year, because, coming at the beginning of our period of lockdown it is a reminder that our faith offers us the presence of God alongside us in all that we do and that our worship can and should start at home.
I also want to add a few words, as I send out this act of worship, about how some deep ideas on our faith can help us practically as we deal with either choosing to stay at home to worship, or coming to church but missing the sense of fellowship that socialising together can bring because of the need to keep in our separate households. We are held in communion, in togetherness by God – the God who made us all, who draws us to share the life of Jesus in baptism, and who inspires us by the same spirit. In God we are held in communion with all who are living and those who have gone before into the closer presence of God; with those with whom we are physically present and those far away. I believe we are held in that unity all the time, but every time we make an act of prayer or worship we open ourselves up to God’s uniting love at work in us.
As we worship over the next few weeks whether at home or in church it might help us experience that sense of connection to take time to be still and hold all those we love (those around us in church and those who we know are at home, or in church while we are at home, our loved ones and all for whom we have concern) in our awareness and ask God to help us feel close to them, to know we are physically distant but not alone. If you are at home you might like to co-incide your prayers with those in church at 11am, perhaps marking the time by lighting a candle, so we all share God’s light at love at the same time.
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Epiphany
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



29th November from Rev'd Samantha Advent Sunday




Dear Friends,
Blessings for the new Church year and a holy Advent!
As I have been reflecting on anticipation of this very different December, I have become aware that the sense of waiting and uncertainty and the hopes arising for a better future which are part of our daily news connect with the deep themes of the Advent season. These deep themes run through Advent music and readings and traditions - especially that of lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath to remember the stories of our ancestors in faith as they longed for change in their own generations. Over the next weeks I hope to explore these connections, so we can bring all that we are feeling, with honesty, into our life of faith and prayer. You might like to create your own Advent wreath, or gather five candles to count down the weeks to Christmas day (or even just have one candle that you light each Sunday). Traditionally we remember Abraham and Sarah (the patriarchs and matriarchs) on Advent 1, the prophets on Advent 2, John the Baptist on Advent 3 and the blessed virgin Mary on the last Sunday of Advent.
In the last week the government has announced that communal worship will be allowed in churches, and we also know now that Devon is in Tier 2 with most of the rest of the country. The current response to this on the Church of England web site is as follows:
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has welcomed the publication of the Government's Covid-19 Winter Plan, detailing that places of worship will be permitted to reopen for public worship from 2nd December.
Bishop Sarah, who Chairs the Church of England's Recovery Group, said: "We are encouraged by the confirmation that places of worship will soon be able to reopen for public worship in all tiers and in all parts of the country.
"Churches and cathedrals can now approach Advent and Christmas with more certainty; a time when we know many people will look forward to attending services celebrating the birth of Jesus.
"We await more detailed guidance and will update our own advice once this is published."

The plan in this diocese is that the Archdeacons will brief clergy on the updated advice on December 2nd and I will continue my conversations with Church Wardens and PCCs once I have recieved that full briefing.
In the meantime, I will be sending out the link for the Zoom Advent tea shortly, and will catch up with emails that have been awaiting me while I was on leave, as swiftly as is possible.
Let's keep one another, our communities and all those who are suffering in our prayers.
The Archbishops' prayer for the nation this week is:

Loving God,
your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness,
bring your healing touch;
where there is fear,
strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty,
build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty,
lead us into truth;
where there is discord,
may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

God bless, Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Advent Sunday
Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text
and here is the link to the Youtube recording of the lighting of the Advent Candle
and the text for the lighting of the candle





22nd November from Rev'd Samantha Christ the King




Dear Friends,
This weekend brings us to the end of the Church year, with the feast of Christ the King. It is perhaps reflective of so much this year that we will each be worshipping in our own homes. This year we have shared, as a whole nation and in our local communities, levels of uncertainty and anxiety that are often only felt privately by people going through hard times. While we celebrate Christ as King we cannot dismiss either our personal suffering or the challenges in our world, rather, I think Jesus’ invitation is to contemplate the mystery at the heart of our faith that through his entering into our suffering and death and coming to resurrection, Jesus has shown us that the power of God’s love can hold the Creation in and through all that is not God’s will for it, and bring newness of life. May this feast inspire us to hold our nation in prayers of hope and love at this time. This week’s prayer for use at 6pm is at the end of this letter.
As we look toward Advent, naturally our thoughts turn towards planning for Christmas and as so much national discussion shows, what will be possible is still unclear but there is hope that by the first week in December we will be in a better position to know what is going to be possible for us as church communities to offer in worship together. I hope to arrange some Zoom meetings with PCCs after I have been briefed by our Archdeacons. I know Zoom can be a little daunting to some, which is why I use it sparingly, but I think we have reached a time when we need to have a regular means of practical meetings that don’t depend on us being able to meet face to face. To begin to make this a little less daunting I’d like to suggest an Advent Sunday Tea-Zoom at 3.30 – 4.00 next Sunday (29th). This will just be a chance to meet others socially, and try out the technology without having to worry that we are transacting business. If you would like to try it out let me know and I will send out individual invitations next Saturday.
I was due to take some annual leave through the middle of this week. With the regulations as they are I am not going away to see family – but I will be taking a break from phone and email between Monday-Friday this week. If there is anything you urgently need to talk to me about, do try and contact me over this weekend.
God bless,
Samantha

Lord Jesus Christ,
in these dark and difficult days, we turn our hearts to you.
In ages past, you have delivered our nation from disaster.
Do it again, we pray.
Give wisdom beyond human wisdom to our leaders,
Give strength beyond human strength to the NHS and all our frontline workers.
Give comfort beyond human comfort to the elderly and all who grieve.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in these dark and difficult days,
turn your face towards us,
have mercy upon us,
and heal our land, we pray.
Amen.

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for Christ the King

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text





15th November from Rev'd Samantha The Second Sunday before Advent




Dear Friends,
I am delighted that this weekend's prayer and reflection is led by Marilyn Sanders, who is on placement with us whilst training for ministry at St Mellitus' College, and who those of you who have been able to come to services at St Mary's will recognise, and, who those of you who have not met her, will now get to know better. Marilyn is also leading a Zoom Bible study on Thursdays mornings, and if after "meeting" her this weekend you would like to join in with that, you don't need to have taken part in the previous sessions as each session looks at preparation for Christmas from a different Biblical perspective. I can put you in touch if you would like to join in, so let me know.

Marilyn reminds us that one of the ways that we can each use time during these weeks is by taking time to pray - the prayer for this week as part of the Archbishop's call to pray for the nation is below. We are encouraged to pray at 6pm in the knowledge that people across our nation are all praying then. More locally, it is rather lovely that Vespers at the Convent begins at 6pm so we join our prayer with the daily rhythm of prayer in which our Sisters hold us all, day in and day out.
God bless
Samantha

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.


Here is the link to the Youtube recording of short service for the Second Sunday before Advent

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



Dear Friends,
Please be assured of my prayers as once more we are asked to stay at home as much as possible. Today in my sermon I have referred to the letter to the nation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which you can read in full here
 https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/news/letter-nation-archbishops-canterbury-and-york
I also mentioned their call to make this a month of prayer and you can find details of that at:
 https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/call-prayer-nation#na
There is a prayer for every day of the week and one for each week of November. The prayer for the coming week is:

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.

As part of our prayerfulness, I encourage us all to be alert this week for the things that bring us joy and comfort – rediscovering simple pleasures, and allowing the blessings of the beauty of where we are living sustain us.
God bless,
Samantha        

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service Remembrance Sunday

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text






Dear Friends,
This just a very brief email to point you in the direction of some resources that have been hastily gathered to support us in responding to the call from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to make this "stay at home" time a time in which the Church can offer prayer for our communities. In particular they are encouraging us to pray at 6pm on a Thursday evening, wherever we are in the knowledge that we are all in this together. I will be saying more about using some of the ideas linked here over the next weeks, but for now I just want to pass them on so we can all start tomorrow. There is a dedicated web page at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/call-prayer-nation
and Here is the prayer booklet document.
May we draw strength from the gift of prayer, and in our unity as members of the body of Christ, bring our desire for the well being of our world to our Father in his name.
God bless
Samantha



3rd November from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
You will now all be aware that there are new "stay at home" rules coming into effect on Thursday.
This means that during the month of November we will not be able to have services in church or acts of worship in church premises (including churchyards) except for funerals.
This means that all church services for Remembrance Day will not be able to happen.
There will be a Civic Act of Remembrance at the Town Hall in Lynton on Sunday only attended by the representatives of the community who are laying wreaths on behalf of us all, but everyone else is encouraged to stay at their own doorsteps to pay their respects.
We cannot go ahead with the corporate act of worship the church had planned in Parracombe, so if members of the community wish to pay their respects at the war memorial I would suggest that you do so individually on a walk through the church yard later in the day - keeping social distance apppropriately.
I will send out my usual you-tube video and an Act of Remembrance to make at home. The London Cenotaph service will be televised and the Exeter Diocesan website also includes links to streamed services.
So although this may not be the way we hoped mark our gratitude for all who have died and suffered in war, nevertheless, in our own way in this year of our own challenges: "We will remember them"

God bless
Samantha



All Saints - 1st November from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This weekend we come to the wonderful feast of All Saints which reminds us of all who have gone before us in faith, and whose lives are an inspiration of holiness.The feast also expands the horizon for us, reminding us that our life on earth is not all that there is - eternity in God's presence is our Christian hope. As such it is a good beginning to the days of remembrance that November brings.
November 2nd is All Souls Day when we remember and hold in prayer those we have known and loved, and those who are part of our own families and family of faith who have died. During this year, dear members of our own churches have died and because of the Covid restrictions we have not always been able to gather to give thanks for them as we would wish. On Monday I invite us each to set aside a period of time to pray for all who we see no longer, and to pray too for all who mourn. November 8th is Remembrance Day this year. There will be services with a Remembrance theme at 10.45 at Oare and Parracombe, and at 11.15 at Lynton.
I will shortly send out a further email with an act of prayer for All Souls and further details about Remembrance services. Please think about contacting anyone you know who may value a call or a note at this time as they remember loved ones at the end of this particularly challenging year, just to let them know they too are remembered and cared about.
God bless,
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for All Saints Sunday

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text



Bible Sunday - 24th October from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This Sunday is Bible Sunday, which is a very good time to think about how we use the Bible in daily life to deepen our relationship with God. Early in the lockdown I suggested some ways of praying with the Bible: Lectio divina where we read a short passage slowly and allow a particular word of phrase to catch our attention so that we can listen and reflect on what God might be saying to us in that word of phrase; imaginative contemplation where we play out a scene in our imagination, perhaps as if we were there, and then talk to God about what we notice; alternatively reading daily Bible notes can be an inspiration for prayer and action.
I am delighted to say that to these suggestions for private prayer, I am now going to add an invitation from Marilyn Sanders, who is on placement with us, to join a Zoom Bible Study group to take you up to Christmas by reflecting together on the texts we would often hear at Carol Services. Marilyn has experience of leading a Bible Study this way and is keen to reassure those who might be put off by technology that she is really happy to help get you over that hurdle. Her invitation is here and I really encourage you to join her in this exploration "The Coming of the Savoiur" which is the name of the course booklet.
At this time of year, we would usually be receiving an invitation to join in the shoe box gift giving of Samaritan’s Purse. The literal shoe-box packing is a casualty of the pandemic but you can find details of the way Samaritans Purse are responding to current challenges, and ways to donate on their website.
Finally, it is a joy to be celebrating with Alex and Bekki, who have defied this year’s setbacks to get married today at Martinhoe – please keep them in your prayers as they begin married life together.
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Bible Sunday

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist




Trinity 19 - 18th October from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
It was very good to be able to offer our Harvest Thanksgiving last week. We were able to send a gift of £55 to the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple from the cash donations at the service – thank you to all who donated and those who have made personal donations via the Freedom Centre and the Christian Aid websites. It was wonderful to have Revd Jean participating in leading the service again with a reading, and we were pleased that Marilyn, who is in training for ministry at St Mellitus led our intercessions.
Looking forward: I am in discussions with the team who organise the Act of Remembrance at Lynton Town Hall to see what is possible for this year. I met with members of Christchurch, Parracombe last week to make the risk assessment that will enable us to begin a month service there in the coming months. More details next week! I am conscious that we have not held the annual Civic Service at St Mary’s this year. It is a time when we give thanks for all who serve our community in civic roles and who give their time and gifts in other ways to benefit the community, and it is good to do that even without the gathering in church. Please pray for all who are at work to keep our common life going through times we could not have imagined even this time last year.
Today (Saturday) I am about to attend a Zoom gathering of the Diocesan Synod. If you read this in time, please keep us in your prayers as we reflect on the impact of the last months on the life of the church across our county.
Be assured of my prayers for you too!
God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 19

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist



Harvest - 11th October from Rev'd Samantha





Dear Friends,
We are making our Harvest thanksgiving this week.
I invite you to take to heart Jesus’ words in the gospel – to consider the birds and the flowers around us, and to extend that to the natural beauty of our area. Time spent enjoying all the moods of our land and sea is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we receive here and something which keeps us aware of our God and Creator. As we enjoy the views, maybe too, we can extend our appreciation to those who care for the land and manage our coast line and reflect on how we play our part in caring for our environment in all the choices we make.
This year we have not been able to gather as village communities to mark Harvest – so if you are a farmer please know that people around you are giving thanks for your commitment today; and if you know a farmer and have contact with them please tell them what a good job they do!
If you would like to make a traditional harvest-tide gift to support those who are less blessed with abundance, here are a couple of ideas about charities to support:
The Freedom Centre in Barnstaple is continuing to support those who need their help. Find out more at:
https://freedomcommunityalliance.org.uk/
and their donation page is:
https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1011150&stop_mobi=yes
Christian Aid also have an Autumn Appeal. Details are on their website:
https://www.christianaid.org.uk/
God bless,
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Harvest

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist


Trinity 17 - 4th October from Rev'd Samantha






Dear Friends,
My original diary for this month of October was full of dates for the various Harvest Festival Services that we usually hold at this time of year. It is a sadness that we are not able to offer the gatherings that are so important to our rural communities across our churches this year.
My suggestion, nevertheless, is that we mark Harvest-tide in our Mission Community Eucharist next Sunday: 11th October. The hymns and readings and prayers with have a Creation and Harvest theme and I will echo that in the You-tube service too – so please feel able to forward it to anyone who might be missing our annual gatherings. Rather than brining produce to church, I suggest that we direct our giving to the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple and our local food bank now based in Lynton. I will give further details of how to give next week. If anyone would like to suggest other recipients at this time, do let me know and we can share them via this weekly letter. Let’s pray for all who farm and fish, giving thanks for their dedication on which we depend. Let’s pray for a better understanding of our own role in caring for the Creation of which we are a part and on which we all depend.
God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 17

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist



Trinity 14 - 13th September from Rev'd Samantha





Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 14




Compline - 6th September from Rev'd Samantha





https://youtu.be/QkNeweTudtk

https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/daily-prayer/night-prayer-compline

Dear Friends,
As we draw this year's Epilogue to a close I am offering a celebration of Compline (you tube link above)
Compline is the night office. The word comes from the Latin for completion and it is designed as the last act before sleeping, handing our whole self over to God until the morning. Tonight we complete a detached series of Epilogues and commend the life of the ancient church of Countisbury to God's care until we once again are able to meet there.
There is a link above to the words from which I am drawing what I say on the video (I am using the version we used every night at my theological college).
And if you would like to hear an exquisite choral celebration - this link takes you to the Choir of Clare College Cambridge offering a sung compline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QolGKCEaCto
May the Lord give you a quiet night,
God bless
Samantha



Trinity 13 - 6th September from Rev'd Samantha





Dear Friends,
Today I have another happy introduction to make. For the last year of her formational training before ordination, Marilyn Sanders is joining on placement to experience and learn about our life as a rural Mission Community. She will be in church on Sunday and we look forward to getting to know Marilyn and her husband Steve over the coming weeks. In her own words Marilyn says:
My name is Marilyn, I am married to Steve and we live in Barnstaple. We have three grown up children and I am currently training for Ordination at St Mellitus college in Plymouth. I have just completed my first year of training and begin my second year in early September. I am very much looking forward to getting to know everyone in the Lyn Valley Mission Community and serving Jesus alongside you, as I begin my placement with you shortly!'
Let’s assure Marilyn and her family of our prayers for them as she responds to God’s call in her life and all that her training involves.
God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 13 https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist


Trinity 12 - 30th August from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
It was a great joy for me to be able to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time after so long last week – a joy to see many people again in church and a joy to be able to hold the whole community in prayer in the midst of this sacrament. My sermon this week is perhaps a reflection on this experience – and the link between what we do in church and the challenges of our everyday life. Our church community gathered in church and dispersed at home makes that link well.
Today seems a good time to pass on some good news to you all, (news already given to Lynton and Barbrook PCC). Bishop Jackie has given Revd Laurence Hillel “Permission to Officiate”(often known as PtO) so that he is formally authorised to offer priestly ministry, primarily in Lynton. Lynton residents may know Laurence well, but if you don’t know yet know him and are in church on Sunday, he is the person who is going to read and lead our intercessions. I asked Laurence for some words of introduction: “I trained for ministry in my late 30s. I became a School Chaplain in a large Church of England Secondary School for ten years, as well as serving as an Assistant priest in three London Parishes. I also developed an expertise in inter religious dialogue with other world faiths, and in that capacity worked at a Christian centre for inter religious engagement finishing up as Co-Director for five years before retirement.”

I am delighted that Laurence is willing to join with Revd Jean and me in priestly ministry here – especially at a time when we are moving step by step in response to thenew patterns of life we share.
Please keep us in your prayers, and be assured of ours,
God bless, Samantha
PS I have written an artice to be published on Sunday evening on the Exmoor Magazine Facebook page - if you are on Facebook you may want to take a look!

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 12 https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist



Trinity 11 - 23rd August from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends
The readings for the 11th Sunday after Trinity:
Isaiah 51:1-6 Ps 138 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew: 16:13-20

This Sunday sees the restoration of the celebration of the Eucharist at the heart of our life together. My prayer is that it will enrich our sense of communion with God and each other – whether we are experiencing it in church, or joining in prayer from home – remembering that God’s grace is not bound by time and space.
From the communications I have received I anticipate that we are heading towards a congregation of about twenty people. That is wonderful, but I also want to affirm the decisions of those who are continuing to be cautious about coming into gatherings and assure you that as we all pray together we are one in the Body of Christ whether at home or at church. I can imagine how difficult a decision it is for some of you and will hold all those who cannot come in my heart as I say the words of the Eucharistic prayer.
God bless
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 11 https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist

The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 16th August from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This weekend’s service is a little longer than some because I have tried to reflect on the significance of this weekend as an anniversary of VJ day, the anniversary of the Flood and St Mary’s matronal festival.
Next week this email will continue, but there will also be the opportunity to return to church for the celebration for the Eucharist at St Mary’s Lynton at 11am. I am grateful to the working group who met last week to finalise what we needed to do in preparations and you can be assured that it has all been very carefully thought through – and there are a group of people who will be willing to help with anything which feels new.
I will attach the first of two guide sheets to help you know what to expect and decide whether you are ready to come to worship in church. As part of the guidelines from the Church of England I am asked to remind anyone who is vulnerable to think very carefully about how wise it is to come into a larger group of people. If you need to talk this through with me, please get in touch. We have decided to make 40 the capacity for the service – which is a cautious use of a building like St Mary’s. I am not expecting us to get close to capacity, but if you could let me know if you are planning to come, my knowledge of this would be helpful to those who are not sure how they feel at the moment.
The instructions sheet that comes with this email is deliberately practical, so that I can send another over the next couple of days which helps us reflect on how we can prepare spiritually before coming to the service, and use features of the current service to support our experience of God’s presence in a distinctive way. God bless,
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Prayers & Reflection Text
Sermon Text

Instructions for attending the Eucharist




Trinity 8 - 2nd August from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
Thank you to all who have responded to my email last week about beginning to plan for a Sunday service in the Mission Community, both to offer to help, and also to give me a sense of how you are feeling about returning to church (or not being ready to at this time).
While everything was in lockdown it seems as though there was a sense of security and of fellow feeling in our society as a whole. We were “all in this together” however frustrating it might be. As the lockdown has eased people are now having different experiences, different reactions, different expectations; and are making different judgements for themselves about what is safe or wise. I think this is totally understandable but it is also creating anxiety and tensions in how people look at others’ behaviour.
It is my hope that as a church community, with the desire to “love our neighbours as ourselves”, we can support one another without anxiety and tension, each to continue our faith journey within the changing pattern of pandemic guidance in the way that is comfortable and feels safe for everyone, in the abiding knowledge that God receives our prayer and worship and is with us whether in church, at home, or in the special places many people have discovered as sacred to them at this time.
I will give a very clear picture of what we can expect a Sunday service to be like, and what precautions those attending will need to take. When we have a prospective date for a first service I will also ask if you could give me an idea of whether you are likely to want to come. I know the decision for some will be guided by how many others will be there. As I have said, I will also continue this mail out so those who don’t feel ready to be in church can continue share the reflection we will all continue to share the unity of our prayers.
God bless,
Samantha
Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 8 Sunday. https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

My Trinity 8 Sermon text
My Trinity 8 Prayers text




Trinity 7 - 26th July from Rev'd Samantha




Dear friends,
This week has seen new rules around face coverings worn in enclosed places coming into force for those who can safely wear them. The rules mean we have one more thing to think about before we leave the house for certain activities - the habit of taking a mask or covering with us, the habits of putting it on and taking it off with care, getting used to what it feels like and how we communicate while our mouth is covered.
To me, a face covering worn in public at the moment is another symbol of how we express our care for those around us. Of all the precautions we now know about, like washing our hands and social distancing, this is the one we do with more concern about protecting others than ourselves. It is a loving act.
In the Celtic tradition, our forebears wove prayer into all that they did. All regular daily activities had traditional prayers: dressing, laying the fire, setting out on a journey, homecoming, covering the fire, going to bed. These were prayers that offered blessing and sought protection.
I wonder if as one of the ways of managing this new habit in our lives, that not all find easy, we can create our own “face covering prayers” that seek to ask God’s blessing on us and those we meet, and ask too for the protection of our communities from the spread of Covid 19.

Part of “St Patrick’s breastplate” gives us a traditional starting point:

Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in the hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger

My own first attempt is:

Lord bless my going out and my coming in
As I wash my hands, may the grace of my baptism make them your hands on earth now,
As I cover my mouth and nose, may I bring blessings to those I will meet today,
May my eyes greet others with the love my smile cannot show,
May even muffled words speak what others need to hear,
Lord bless my going out and coming in.
Amen

If anyone else would like to offer their suggestions and be willing for me to circulate them – please send them to me.
God bless, Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 6 Sunday. https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

My Trinity 7 Sermon text
My Trinity 7 Prayers text


Trinity 6 - 19th July from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This week many young people and children will be finishing school for the summer. It has been such a disrupted time for children, parents and carers, and all involved in teaching and learning in schools. Let’s keep all our children, young people and school staff in our prayers through this week as the West Exmoor Federation finds creative ways to mark the end of primary school time for our year sixes. Parracombe and Lynton and Barbrook PCCs have made their traditional gift to the children of the “Book of Books” a contemporary telling of the stories of the Bible and we pray that they will enjoy reading them in days to come.
At the centre of school life here are the CARIS values: Curiousity, Achievement, Respect, Inspiration and Support – with their initial letters spelling out “caris” which means love. The values emerged from the school community reflecting on the parables and what qualities they inspire in our lives. Our Sunday readings hold us with parables at the moment, and you might like to give a thought for how each story shows some of the CARIS qualities. After fifteen hours of a Zoom conference this week which was trying discern future priorities for the Church of England, it was interesting to realise that the qualities our children are learning are essential for healthy relationships within our church life too.
Over the next week I will be trying to have conversations with all our Churchwardens about how we gently offer an opportunity, for those who feel comfortable, to return to a celebration of the Eucharist within the Mission Community. Across the diocese churches are being very cautious about this, so our progress is in line with the norm here (and actually in line with much that I heard about across the country).
Be assured, as ever, of my prayers for you all,
God bless,
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of my short service for Trinity 6 Sunday. https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Trinity 6 Sermon
Trinity 6 Prayers



Trinity 5 - 12th July from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
The Gospel for this Sunday is the parable of Sower, the seeds and the soil. It offers us a reminder that in the Word of God we have a gift that can speak to us through the joys and the challenges of life. Right now many organisations and businesses around us are drawing up practical responses to the challenges that living with Covid 19 has set us. In meetings this week I have been part of conversations about Diocesan planning (Bishop’s Diocesan Council); about how our schools have risen magnificently to the challenge of supporting the children and families in our community (Full Governors Meeting) and with colleagues in the Deanery Chapter about our church decisions. What these meetings had in common was that we are planning with an open ended future in sight – we just do not know much that in the past was taken for granted as future plans were made.
When we live by faith, seeking God’s guidance, we practice living in the knowledge that the future is and never was under our control. Discernment of what God is calling us to becomes as important, perhaps more important, than applying strategic planning skills.
Allowing God’s word for today to take root deeply in us as individuals, churches and the Church is about finding our security in God, and being guided by God through the challenges to come.
I have been asked to participate in a prayerful discernment process for the national church hosted on Zoom on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday mornings this week. Please keep this work in your prayers.
In our local context, I sent out some questions for PCC members last month to help us think in a broad way about the way our faith and church life has been shaped by the lock down experience. I’d like to share those questions more widely to get a sense of how people are feeling now – so if you feel able to answer the questions below, and would be happy to let me know any answers, that would be great.
God bless,
Samantha
PS On a practical note: Because I am required for the conference on Friday I am taking some rest-time on Tuesday this week in lieu Reflective Questions:
1. What, if anything, have you been able to see clearly about church life during this period?
2. What have been the spiritual gifts for you, or this time?
3. What have you missed while we have not been able to gather in worship?
4. What have you been glad to be free of?
5. What might you be excited about carrying forward as we return to gathered church life?
6. What should we not rush back into?
7. Are there any particular Bible references or stories that you have been reminded of in a new way during this time, or have been important to you through this?
8. Have you any other comments about the impact of this period on your faith?

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity 5 Sunday. https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Trinity 5 Sermon
Trinity 5 Prayers



Trinity 4 - 5th July from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
It is perhaps timely that in this week’s gospel we hear Jesus inviting us not to carry heavy burdens but to come to him for rest: that companionship with Jesus is characterised by gentleness. Timely, because over the last few days the Church of England has responded to the government guidance for a return for public services in places of worship, and the guidance is extensive and quite complex. I am very much looking forward to the time when I am able to lead our worship with congregations in our churches, but to do that in a way that enables our souls to rest as we worship I need to give more time to making our return safe and gentle. My plan is to come up with a proposal for each congregation that I then discuss with PCCs and we will keep everyone fully informed of each stage of the return to services in church, which will feel a bit different from those that we left. In the meantime, and even after some worship in churches begins again, I will continue to provide my sermons, liturgy and Youtube reflections by email to enable those who still need to be cautious about contact with others to continue to participate in the praise and worship of God, which is our shared calling.
This Sunday also marks the anniversary of the founding of the NHS and I attach prayers you might like to use during the day and over the next week to remember the vital work of this service. Bishop Jackie is leading a service at 10 am which you can find here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV2YkZIQMKaNRd9sjzLmV7Q?view_as=subscriber
The Communicatons team at the diocese has set up a survey to get a sense of changing communication patterns across the diocese. If you feel able to respond it is a good way of highlighting the challenges of communication in this part of North Devon to those who shape strategies in Exeter.
Please fill in the survey by clicking on this link: https://www.research.net/r/DOEBuildingstrongconnections
Within the survey there is a question that comes from a group of which I have been part. We are trying to encourage theological reflection on all that we have been experiencing by helping people reflect on the big questions that the last months have posed. If you don’t want to wade through the whole survey, but would be willing to send me an answer to the question I will happily send it on to those gathering questions:
What are the biggest questions that the last few months of lockdown have raised for you about God, faith and the world?
On that note – God bless!
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity 4 Sunday. https://youtu.be/MkRmzIn1AgM

Trinity 4 Sermon
Trinity 4 Prayers
Epilogue for this evening (by Carolynn Gold)




Epilogue - 28th June from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
Here some thoughts which would have been the basis of my Epilogue this evening.
God bless
Samantha

The book I refer to is "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor, published by Canterbury Press.


Trinity 3 - 28th June from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
I am sending out this liturgy and sermon as the first piece of work after my time of retreat. Thank you to Revd Jean, Vivien and Barbara, for being those whose contact details people received if they phoned or emailed in the interim and to everyone who has helped me take this bit of time and space to reflect.
No doubt there will be plenty waiting in my email in–box, and I will get back to you as soon as I can if you are awaiting a response: but it may take a few days. I am also aware of needing to familiarise myself with the latest new guidance on church opening but look forward to being able to bring you further updates on where we are with that soon too!
This Sunday would have marked the beginning of the Epilogue season. I have reflected on this in a posting on the Exmoor Magazine facebook page (many thanks to all who offered their photos) and hope to get the summary of what I had planned for the service out by the evening of Sunday.
Archdeacon Mark moves on at the end of this month in preparation for his new post. I know he has been a very good friend to our churches over his time as Archdeacon, and I am deeply grateful for all his support and guidance.
Let’s keep him in our prayers during this time of change for him.
God bless
Samantha


Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity 3 Sunday. https://youtu.be/M4zQUxsD4MA

Trinity 3 Sermon
Trinity 3 Prayers



Trinity 2 - 21st June from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
Please be assured of my prayers for you all while I am on retreat.
God bless,
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity 2 Sunday. https://youtu.be/M4zQUxsD4MA

Trinity 2 Sermon
Trinity 2 Prayers



Trinity 1 - 14th June from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
While are PCCs are deliberating about whether we can fulfil all that is required to open our church buildings for private prayer, today’s gospel is a timely reminded that the first disciples were called to take the gospel of God’s love out into the world – it was the presence of those who knew Jesus, sharing his love and his message in villages and homes that laid the foundation for what would become his church. Whatever is or isn’t possible in the use of our buildings – we are the ones who open the doors of God’s love to each other and those around us, guided by our continuing prayer and praise of God wherever we find ourselves.
Thank you for all the ways in which this is happening – in very practical ways like those on the food bank rota and doing shopping for others and in companionable ways by keeping in regular contact with others and by sharing prayer and encouragement.
This evening there is a big online service organised by RSCM with great selection of varied styles of church music – my previous email forwarded from Pat has details. In days to come PCCs and I will have come to a church by church decision about to what extent we can plan to open and we will make that public as soon as possible.
Just an advanced reminder too, that I will be on retreat from 18th June until 27th June.
God bless
Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity 1 Sunday. https://youtu.be/M4zQUxsD4MA
Trinity 1 Prayers
Trinity 1 Readings & Sermon



Trinity Sunday - 7th June from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
As we reach Trinity Sunday, my sermon reflects on the way the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is outgoing. The Trinity shows us a community of persons in relationship who draws others into the love they share by extending that love to them.
Our church life reflects the God we worship when we deepen our love for God and each other by fellowship in God’s name. While we are unable to gather on Sunday the habitual meeting is not possible, but it may be a time that some people would like to look at new ways of meeting that enable us to encourage one another in prayer and companionship and that we could build upon when physical distancing is eased. I am suggesting that we explore ways of creating local or themed prayer groups organised however suits those involved – by commitment to pray at the same time as each other, by prayer partnership on the phone, or by using one of the conferencing platforms some are now familiar with.
If you are interested in thinking with me about this, or have suggestions about how we could do it, or would like to be put in touch with others who are interested, please let me know.
God bless, Samantha

Here is the link to the Youtube recording of a short service for Trinity Sunday. https://youtu.be/vKcSioPFNw0

Trinity Sunday Prayers
Trinity Sunday Readings & Sermon

PS Some practical notes: PCC members I am aiming to get agendas out by email in the coming week with details as to how you can express your response to things we have to make decisions about.

I was due to go on retreat between 18th June and 27th June, as you might expect, the retreat centre has cancelled all retreats this month – but on reflection I have decided it would be good to take that time for prayer and discernment at home. If you need to speak to me, or to send me anything that needs a response please could you do so by 17th June. I will organise contact details for urgent matters during my retreating time.


Penticost - 31st May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends
Happy Birthday! Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost which is often called the birthday of the Church. In my sermon today I have focused on the role of the Spirit in uniting us. It seems to me that at this time of not being able to express our shared life in physical gatherings it is really important to be able to draw on the reality that in the power the Holy Spirit we are united in worship with the whole church – those all around the world and those who have gone before us. We are never alone, though we might feel so at times. Let’s hold in our prayers all who are feeling lonely today and bring to God our own lonelinesses too. Today we would usually have made a Pentecost prayer walk from St Mary’s to Lee Abbey. If you are out for a walk sometime today perhaps you could pray a blessing on the environment in which you find yourself.
Another Pentecost tradition is to wear something red – the liturgical colour for the day. It’s a reminder that we each carry the energy of the Holy Spirit as the apostles did in Jerusalem!
God bless,
Samantha
Here is the link to Sunday's service https://youtu.be/BaeLWkbechE
Samantha's words


Easter 7 - 24th May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This is a very late message for Sunday but I am having technical issues with uploading the YouTube service I have recorded this afternoon. My solution for the moment is to send you the text and the sermon as well as day three of Thy Kingdom Come ideas so you have all those things for today whatever and if the technology resolves itself I'll send the link later!
The theme of my sermon is that Jesus shows us that God's glory is to be found even in the messiest parts of our world - perhaps that even means technology glitches too! Thank you to everyone who has sent emails - I will be in touch in response.
God bless!
Samantha

Some Links for today

Stop Press! Samantha's service for today
Eucharist for the 7th Sunday of Easter from Exeter Cathedral
Eucharist for the 7th Sunday of Easter from Ely Cathedral


Ascension Day - 21st May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends
Today is Ascension Day. It is one of the great feasts of the Christian calendar and one that sometimes gets overlooked because it falls on a Thursday (forty days after Easter Sunday). This year, maybe we have a good opportunity to make it a special – enjoy something special to eat so it really is a feast day, dress up in celebratory clothes, make contact with those whose company you enjoy. Hundreds of years ago St Augustine said “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song”. Ascension Day is a good time to put “alleluia” into action and do something joyful!
I have taken the brave leap into broadcasting on YouTube to mark Ascension Day. Here is the link. It is a first attempt, and the sound quality is not great, so I suggest if you watch it that you turn the volume on your device up as far as it will go! I’m also here are the words of the service to help following it. I am hoping to learn a bit more so I can do some similar things a bit more successfully for Sundays to come.
A more professional means to celebrate Ascension Day and the beginning of the “Thy Kingdom Come” prayer days will be available on the diocesan website, you tube and facebook channels:
Ascension Day Service to Launch Thy Kingdom Come
The Archdeacon of Plymouth, Nick Shutt, is leading a special Ascension Day service which will be broadcast at 10am on Thursday 21 May on our website, Youtube and Facebook channels. It features a specially written new hymn and was filmed at the beautiful St Michael de Rupe Church on Dartmoor.
God bless, and happy feast!
Samantha

My Ascension Day Prayers & Reflection


6th Sunday of Easter - 17th May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
This Sunday I am giving thanks for my calling to this place and for all that we have shared over the last three years since my arrival here. Thank you to Revd Jean for all her support, to all Churchwardens and PCC members through my time here and to all of you for our companionship as we journey with Christ in this beautiful place. We are also entering the week that leads to Ascension Day on Thursday. Traditionally the beginning of this week is “Rogation-tide” when we pray for a good harvest. I have added to my sermon some prayers you might like to use. If you are farming, or have friends who are please know and pass on our gratitude for all you do. This year too, lets’ pray for all whose livelihood is vulnerable in these uncertain times.
Ascension Day also brings the beginning of the Thy Kingdom Come days in which Christians across the world will be marking the ancient tradition of keeping days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. There are lots of ideas about how to join in at this website: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/ and I’ll be sending out more ideas as we go through that time. We are each encouraged to pray for five friends far or near, and maybe finding a time to phone them or write to them would be a fitting thing this year.
I know for many, these times are not getting any easier and some are carrying personal pain and grief. Let us continue to pray for all who are suffering; this prayer remembers all for whom nights can be particularly difficult:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick,
give rest to the weary,
sustain the dying,
calm the suffering,
and pity the distressed;
all for your love’s sake, O Christ our Redeemer. Amen

Keeping you all in my prayers – and always pleased to hear from you
God bless
Samantha

Easter 6 service (Iona) from Chagford Parish Church, Diocese of Exeter
Easter 6 Traditional Communion Service from Marylebone Parish Church
National Weekley Service


14th May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
I mentioned in my Sunday email that today is dedicated to prayer for our current challenges. Click here for some thoughts about how we might approach such prayer with a brief meditation on the Our Father prayer.
I suggested that we might join in prayer at midday.
One other suggestion for marking the day was to think about making a phone call to see how someone is. I am sure we will all find ways of marking the day with thought and love.
God bless
Samantha


5th Sunday in Easter - 10th May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,

This week I am picking up a change of atmosphere after some steady weeks of most people being reconciled to the restrictions on us for our own good and the good of those around us. With the anticipation of how these might be gently lifted there is certainly more traffic along Lee Road, and also raised levels of anxiety amongst the vulnerable and those in caring roles. Change of any kind is not easy so let’s continue to pray for our decision makers and those who facilitate safe change, that their work may support the common good. Let’s pray for all who are frustrated or struggling financially at the moment and are disappointed with slow change, and for all who feel vulnerable at any change at all. May we all be inspired by the spirit of community care that so many have demonstrated so far, to continue to put the needs of the weakest and most vulnerable first as the guide to what we chose to do.

On Thursday of this week people of all faiths, and all of good will are being invited to keep a day of prayer, fasting and acts of loving kindness for the overcoming of the global pandemic. As a starter for how we might join in, my suggestion is that we might all pause to pray in our own way at midday, perhaps beginning with the Lord’s prayer. If anyone has further ideas, do let me know.

Our Easter journey is now moving closer to the Ascension and Pentecost: a time of changing atmosphere for those who would become the church. As we pray with this week’s gospel which reminds us that Jesus is the centre of all we share, as members of his body let us pray for each other that we may let him provide reassurance we all, in different ways, seek.

God bless, Samamtha

Easter 5 Readings & Sermon and readings for the week ahead



8th May - Samantha's VE day address [CLICK]



4th Sunday in Easter - 3rd May from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,

This Sunday is often called “Good Shepherd” Sunday as the readings remind us that this is one of the images Jesus uses to describe himself. It is an image that means more to me now than it as has ever done. I write my sermon with a view of a field of sheep, and where I often watch as the sheep gather when the quad bike arrives. My sermon reflects on the deep bond of dependence that Jesus offers us, but Good Shepherd Sunday is also a good time for us to offer our prayers for those who farm around us – giving thanks for their dedication and praying for the wellbeing of all farming families and communities. The whole country has become more aware of the significance of how much we rely on the dedication of others for our daily needs and it is my prayer that when we have a greater freedom of movement and choice, people choose to support those local to them who enable us to eat wholesome fresh food, and care for the landscapes that are so important for our health and quality of life.

I am really glad to know that many of you are keeping in touch regularly with each other. If you would like to have more contact with others, please get in touch with me. I am also really grateful when people let me know about people and events that need prayer or my response. Also, if you know of anyone who is not on email or online who would value using a new Cof E phone service for prayer and worship please pass on the number to them. It is a free-phone number: 0800 804 8044 and offers prayers, services and hymns after a greeting from Archbishop Justin.

On Friday we will be commemorating VE day. I will be leading a brief service which will be filmed and shown at 11am on the Lyn Valley Facebook TV that day. I have also written a piece about it which will be on the Exmoor Magazine Facebook page on Sunday. I hope that the commemoration will help us draw on the resilience of those who have gone before us as we continue to support one another as a community now.

God bless, Samantha

Easter 4 Readings & Sermon and readings for the week ahead


3rd Sunday in Easter 26th April from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,

I have just had “Any Answers” on the radio and one of the discussions was what changes to the world we will see when we come through this period of social distancing. There was disagreement as to whether there would be noticeable changes, and how they might come about. One area of agreement was that there will be greater appreciation of those key workers whose roles we have relied upon now but previously have been undervalued. That does not have to wait for the end of these restrictions – hopefully we express our gratitude to all who are serving their communities with such dedication now.

The radio discussion parallels so many of the conversations I have been having with many of you through the last weeks: the hope being expressed that even in the midst of something we would never have wanted to happen, we can discover what matters most to us as individuals and communities and treasure these things as the touchstones of how we reorganise our normal lives. These are the glimpses of hope that there is better yet to come that guide us towards that “better”.

As we travel through the Easter season the resurrection appearances are moments like that: glimpses of the hope of what God wills for all of us which guide us into living life in its fullness and provide us with the assurance of eternal life. That’s why I really encourage you to find a story that speaks to you and respond creatively so we can display these glimpses through picture and word and object as Stations of Resurrection when we return to church. It’s a way of letting God weave together in us our Easter faith, and the gifts of new life we might find in the midst of our challenges now.

This week’s sermon also offers a more reflective task at the end to do this kind of exploration in our own lives.

My prayers, as ever, God bless

Samantha


For the coming week
A rather lovely Morning and Evening Prayer each day are available online from Canterbury Cathedral: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/
Gospel Readings for each day:

Monday 27th John 6:22-29
Tuesday 28th John 6:30-35
Wednesday 29th John 6:35-40
Thursday 30th John 6:44-51
Friday 1st May St Philip and St James John 14:1-14 or John 6:52-59
Saturday 2nd May John 6:60-69



2nd Sunday in Easter-tide week - 20th April from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
For those who are finding following the text of the gospel for each day helpful, I have given this week’s readings below. The lectionary takes us back to early on in John’s Gospel to passages where Jesus talks of who he is and what is to come. The invitation is to look at these words with the hindsight of those who have become witnesses to the resurrection and want to reflect on what it confirms of all Jesus had said before.

This week we also see two major saint’s days: St George, patron saint of England and St Mark the evangelist. I have given the readings for those celebrations as well as the alternative sequential reading. The legend of St George, the knight who saved a community by fighting the dragon that haunted it may be a good symbol of all those we clap for on Thursday evenings who work against the virus haunting our communities now. St Mark is believed to be the first writer of a gospel – collecting what was known about Jesus and preserving it on paper so the “good news” could be handed down and prayed with by communities suffering the uncertainty of persecution and at distance from one another. As we use our Bibles as a focus of our own prayer and worship, let us pray for all our brothers and sisters with whom we share the text of the Good News of Jesus Christ – all around the world, and all who have gone before us.

God bless, Samantha

Monday 20th John 3:1-8
Tuesday 21st John 3:7-15
Wednesday 22nd John 3:16-21
Thursday 23rd Feast of St George John 15:8-21 or John 3:31-end
Friday 24th John 6:1-15
Saturday 25th Feast of St Mark: Mark 13: 5-13 or John 6:16-21       Eucarist from Canterbury Cathedral




2nd Sunday in Easter-tide - 19th April from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
I hope this Easter week has had times of contentment in the midst of our on-going support of one another by keeping distance.
The sermon for this Sunday does not make much direct reference to the challenges our country is facing but at the heart of what I have written lies my sense that the gift of patience is something we need to pray for, for ourselves and those around us struggling now with the uncertainty about how long this will go on for. It is noticeable in the daily government briefings that journalists reflect a wider desire to know what is going to happen next. I find myself grateful (and this is a philosophical not a political observation) that like the scientists advising them the politicians have accepted that there things we just don’t know, and we have to wait to know them before further decisions can be made. There is an uncomfortable honesty in that.

We can offer prayer in the midst of honest discomfort – telling God what we are feeling, praying for healing for those who suffer, comfort for those who mourn, protection for those who serve, wisdom for those who govern, friendship for those who are lonely, support for those who are in need or afraid for their financial future. In this season of resurrection, may we pray too, for eyes to see the gifts hidden in this time, hearts to cherish them, and wisdom to carry them towards the future. With that in mind, I have a suggestion that looks forward to the opening of our churches whenever that might be. Traditionally leading up to Holy Week churches have displayed stations of the cross; but there is also a series of “Stations of the Resurrection” referring to the various stories of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. I would like us to create some such stations to place in church when the time comes that we open again. These might include artwork, photos, written reflections, symbols and images that the resurrection stories evoke, or that reflect moments of life, and things to cherish in our own experience of this time, our own resurrection moments through this period. Here is a list of the “stations” continue to reflect on them, and how they might inspire our creativity in connecting the hope offered by the resurrection with all that we are experiencing now, in days to come.

God bless
Samantha





Easter Week - 13th April... from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends,
Happy Easter-tide!
I hope your Easter Day has been one of blessings and hope. If you have found it valuable to use this time as an opportunity to reflect prayerfully on Jesus’ experiences through Holy Week to Easter, you might like to continue your journey with the risen Jesus and his friends. Understanding of the resurrection came to those closest to Jesus slowly. He spent forty days helping them discover what God has done in him, and ever since the church is still learning. You and I may only come close to comprehending its mystery when we are drawn into it fully ourselves! It is good to take time then, to continue our celebration of the resurrection by praying with scriptural accounts of Jesus’ appearances to his friends. Often Christian devotion and theology stops at the cross, but truly the cross can only be understood in the light of the resurrection. May this Easter-tide offer us the gift of beginning to see all that we are living through illuminated by that light.

If you would like to carry on the prayer with the gospel passages set for each day that I suggested for Holy Week, the readings for this Easter week are:
Matthew 28:8-15
John 20:11-18
Luke 24:13-35
Luke 24:35-48
John 21:1-14
Mark 16: 9-15
Just to let you know, as I was due to take over a week’s leave after Easter I have decided to reduce that, but I will be taking Monday-Friday of this week as a rest time at home, so if you get my answer phone or seem to wait even longer than usual for a reply to an email, that will be why! My prayers won’t stop though, be assured of them!
God bless, Samantha



Easter Day - 12th April from Rev'd Samantha




Dear Friends!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!


This is the faith in which we live and make sense of all that we live through, and I will deeply miss that moment when we acclaim it together as the Easter celebrations begin; but all that we share truly depends more on the reality of being one in the risen Christ than on our worshiping in one place. Just as our shared worship can bring us great Easter joy, this year let’s allow that joy of our spiritual communion well up in us with love as we know this is the feast of the Resurrection – the Queen of feasts – for us all.

Click here for my sermon

I also invite you to choose to spend some time on Easter Day doing something that brings you alive, brings you real joy, fills you with love or gratitude, in other words, helps you feel close to the God of Resurrection. You might want to talk to Jesus, as you would with a friend about how you might deepen your companionship with him in the things you love doing.

If today, we glimpse something of God’s life-giving love for the world, may we pray too for all those who knowingly or not are showing that love so freely in their actions; those (and that may be ourselves) who are not able to feel that love at this time; those who are suffering and those who have died, that they may know Jesus’ companionship in all that they travel through.

I look forward to hearing about how you found ways to celebrate this Easter and pray that it is a time of renewed faith, hope and love in the midst of all we are living through.
With love and my prayers
Samantha

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!





Easter Vigil - Easter Eve Saturday 11th April from Rev'd Samantha



Dear Friends,
The pictures from all over the world of Christians finding different ways to celebrate Easter this year reminded me that in the earliest days of our faith, and still for brothers and sisters in certain places in the world, the everyday practice of being a Christian brought and brings the risk of being persecuted. As our gathering is disrupted this year, we can perhaps draw on the strength and resilience they showed, and show day in and day out, giving thanks for and seeking to share the depths of their faithfulness.

The Easter Vigil liturgy which begins the celebration of the resurrection has its roots in the earliest days of the persecuted church when Christians gathered in the catacombs, and those who were joining the church were baptised into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The first fire of Easter was lit in the darkest night and celebrations met the dawn of Easter day.

The full service now includes a series of readings from the Old and New Testament that remind us of God’s continuing acts of liberation and salvation, which for Christians have their fulfilment in the resurrection of Jesus. There are beautiful prayers for the lighting of the new Paschal Candle to acclaim Jesus the light of the world, including the Exultet and the Gloria (not heard throughout Lent) and usually the font is blessed as we recall our own baptismal promises.

I am going to light our new Paschal candle in the darkness of the night (10pm) and I invite you to light a candle in your own homes too. I will attach a list of the readings and some of the prayers of this celebration for you to use in your own way if you would like to. When we return to our churches I hope we can, together, bless the font and recall the promises of Baptism as a thanksgiving for renewed freedom to worship the God of our salvation as God’s gathered people, and complete our Easter celebration.

God bless you as we are witnesses of the resurrection in our own way on this Holy night,
Samantha

Files to read and/or download

Easter Vigil Prayers & Readings




Easter Saturday 11th April from Rev'd Samantha



Dear Friends,
Holy Saturday is often the forgotten day of the journey to Easter. After the liturgical intensity of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Saturday is the day nothing happens.

The first Holy Saturday will have been marked by fear, confusion, grief, shock, numbness and disorientation for those who had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with Jesus and found themselves instead associates of a condemned and crucified man.

As we anticipated this Holy Week, unable to gather to mark the holiest of seasons in church, there was discussion amongst clergy that it was going to feel like a long Holy Saturday.

Perhaps this year is the year when we rediscover the significance of Holy Saturday, recognising that days when “nothing happens”, days of waiting, confusion, fear, numbness, disorientation, grief, shock and waiting are a real part of human life, and need to be honoured and given their space and time too. Our Easter faith offers the promise that while “nothing happens” God’s love is still at work to bring new life from desolation as only God can. So let us make space for “nothing happening” this Holy Saturday, and allow it to unfold however it does,

God bless
Samantha




Good Friday 10th April from Rev'd Samantha



Dear Friends,
We have reached Good Friday, a day above all, of stopping our busy-ness and remembering Jesus’ gift of himself, offered for us on the cross. My sermon for today has become a more extended reflection in the spirit of the past tradition of the three hours services of the past on Good Friday afternoon. It does give space to go quite deeply into personal reflection on how Jesus’ words from the cross might speak to our own awareness of our mortality at this time. This may not be what everyone is looking for today, so I can also suggest the tradition of following the stations of the cross, which pilgrims brought back from Jerusalem: having visited the sites of the events of Good Friday they created a version of pilgrimage you could do back home.

This link take you to a contemporary reflection on them by the Biblical scholar Nicholas King SJ :
https://www.thinkingfaith.org/tags/nicholas-kings-stations-cross?mc_cid=e991f5a384&mc_eid=87357580e5

A friend of mine used to be involved in the production of the Wintershall Passion play, an outdoor performance telling the story of Jesus with a huge cast. Last year they took the performance into the heart of London, and this year were extending to cities across the country. Instead they are streaming footage on facebook : www.facebook.com/Wintershallplay

Details of television schedules, and the offerings of the local and national church are found in the links here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2020/easter
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online
https://exeter.anglican.org/rainbow-of-hope-as-devons-churches-offer-wide-spectrum-of-easter-worship/

Today’s Collects:

Almighty God, look with mercy on the family for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners and to suffer death upon the cross; who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen

Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love; in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


God bless, Samantha

Files to read and download

My sermon for Good Friday




Thursday 9th April Maundy Thursday from Rev'd Samantha



Dear Friends,

As we come to the Easter Triduum - the Holy days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter - my plan is to send out reflections that accept that we are doing things very differently this year. We cannot experience the dramatic liturgy of the services of this season together. (Although the Diocese of Exeter and Church of England websites will give opportunities to follow services on line and I attach a mailing from the BBC on Easter programming look out for Britain's Easter Story on Good Friday and Easter Sunday). My reflections are focusing on how we draw what we are experiencing this year into our journey with Jesus through these days.

My prayer is that we in turn may draw strength from Jesus' journey to the cross and his resurrection for the things our world is going through this Easter 2020. With my love and prayers as we travel through the Triduum in spirit together.

Samantha

Files to read and download

My sermon for Maunday Thursday
The BBC at Easter



Monday 6th April from Rev'd Samantha



Dear Friends,

As we enter Holy Week, I am sending some ideas for prayer. If you haven't already done so you might like to create a particular space for prayer in your home. A lit candle, some greenery in a vase (or flowers as we get to Easter) a Bible or prayer book at hand, these are things that some people find make it easier to settle to a prayer time at home.

I attach my own suggestions for praying with Scripture this week and also a link to a booklet with some art work and prayer suggestions from St Beuno's which is the retreat centre I visit. If you print off these use the "leaflet document" which forms a booklet. If you use it on your computer the "single page" version is easier. I can send you the PDF if you need it - but it is a large file.

If you love traditional Evensong, I've been reminded that Choral Evensong is available on Radio 3 Wednesdays at 3.30pm and Sundays 3.00pm (and anytime on BBC Sounds) If you find anything that you think might help others in their walk with God at this time do let me know. I am happy, time allowing, to pass these on with these regular emails.

God bless,
Samantha

Link: https://www.pathwaystogod.org/resources/praying-holy-week-senses


Saturday 4th April from Rev'd Samantha




Holy Week 2020


This Holy week is likely to feel very different, very strange. It is the time of year when our services usually offer us distinctive ways of entering into the events of the Jesus’ journey to the cross together. It’s a time we can draw close to God and share in reflection and worship as together we contemplate Jesus’ saving love for us displayed in an Upper Room and on the Cross and revealed as eternal and invincible by his resurrection.

This year we cannot be together physically, and we cannot share in the fullness of the liturgy of the Triduum (Maundy Thursday-Easter Day) but as we find ways to mark these days at home, I hope that a gift of this year’s Holy Week may be our awareness that our communion does not just rely on being in church together (or even being able to work internet technology!). Our communion is something deeper extending beyond the here and now, with all those who have gone before us too. Our deepest communion with one another and with God, lies in our relationship as members together of the body of Christ which is the great mystery that our baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus made real for us.

This year I am going to send out some ideas for entering into the events of Holy Week, inspired by the main things that usually happen in church and what they call us to focus on. There will be a lot on offer to aid worship and reflection on the Diocese of Exeter and Church of England websites and across television and radio (which I will try to let you have details of), but I will also concentrate on how we can keep a good Holy Week in simple ways – that don’t depend on being online. Please feel free to share ideas for prayer, reflection and worship with each other in your contact by phone or email at this time too.

Ever present God, Be our comfort in times of uncertainty, our stability in times of change, our peace through anxiety, our companion in all things. Amen


The peace of God remain with you,
Samantha

PS I am sorry if you have received strange emails appearing to come from me. It looks as though there is someone hacking clergy emails at the moment. Please be wary if is doesn't sound like my style. I will avoid stating and email with "hi there" for example.


Files to download

My sermon for Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Make an Easter Cross



Wednesday 1st April Monthly Letter from Rev'd Samantha



I left writing this month’s letter as late as possible. Even so, I know I am writing at least a fortnight before you read these words, perhaps more, and at the moment it is hard to anticipate fully what we will be experiencing as we celebrate the wonderful mystery of the Easter feast in the middle of April.

This Lent has certainly brought its own challenges, beyond traditional abstinence. The Covid 19 virus has required people across the world to change their habits, causing distress, disruption and anxiety about the future. The first sign of this in our church life was a decision not to share the common cup at communion, and to stop shaking hands when we shared God’s peace. At first this was a difficult decision - it seemed like taking away physical expressions of the unity we celebrate with God and each other as we come together in worship. In this new situation though, the absence of physical expression can communicate an even deeper sense of love and concern for one another – this “not doing something” is an expression of self-giving love, the love that desires health and wholeness for all those around us. In our worship we express this in symbolic ways: across the world this is being expressed by those who self-isolate to protect their neighbours, medics giving up holidays to be available, and volunteers who give their time to support those unable to come out.

Self-giving love takes us right into the heart of the Easter mystery. Christians believe that Jesus’ death was his ultimate act of self-giving love, absorbing on our behalf all that denies life and love. His disciples experienced his death as the end of his physical presence with them, the apparent end of God’s presence amongst them in human form. By the third day they had hidden away in fear of the hostility of those around them in the city, locking themselves in an upper room.

Into the midst of the confusion, isolation, distress and fear the risen Jesus comes to them, telling them not to be afraid, and offering them his peace and inspiring them to bring his love to the world, just as he has revealed God’s love. In the coming days he will teach them that he will always be with them in a way deeper than his immediate physical presence. Forty days later he will ascend to heaven, promising to be with them always and they will discover a new resilience, and new confidence, a new joy beyond imagining, as they receive his Spirit, his Spirit of Love.

Whatever we may be experiencing this Easter-tide in the world around, I pray that the words of Jesus in the upper room: “Do not be afraid, it is I”; “My peace I give you”, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”; may reassure us of the eternal victory of the love Easter offers us through all things and inspire in us a love we want to share in every way we can in the days to come.

May the blessing of peace be yours this Easter,
Samantha




Saturday 28th March Letter from Rev'd Samantha
for Sunday 29th March - Passion Sunday




Dear Friends,
Whilst we can pray to God at all times and in all places, Sunday has from early times been the day when Christians gather to worship together. While we cannot gather physically, we can in spirit and there are a great number of services being developed to support this and I have gathered some suggestions here to get us started and include people of all levels of technological skill!

Tomorrow, I will be praying the words of the Eucharist at 11am at home – holding the whole community, each of our churches, each one of you in my prayers. You might like to pray the simple act of Spiritual Communion at that time (the Bishop sent the document that a colleague has turned into the booklet - click here to download). The readings for this week are very rich too:
Ezekiel 37:1-14;    Psalm 130;   Romans 8:6-11;   John 11:1-45
My short sermon and notes on the readings for PASSION SUNDAY click here to download
Television and radio provide opportunities to see and listen to a form of Sunday worship:
BBC Radio Devon Sunday Service (0630 Sunday and then on BBC Sounds)
BBC Radio 4 08.10 Sunday Worship
BBC 1 10.45 Sunday Worship and 1.15 Songs of Praise
And amongst a lot that will be available on line there is a national service from the Archbishop of York at 9am:
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online and a Diocesan Service for this Sunday will be broadcast on line at 10am, you can find details at:
https://exeter.anglican.org/resources/coronavirus-guidance/sunday-services-to-watch-online/
At 7pm every Sunday Christians Together encourage everyone to light a candle and pray. Below is a form of prayers you might like to use with additional thoughts for this week’s focus: our wonderful NHS

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me or phoned. If I haven’t yet got back to you yet, I will, and be assured, all prayer requests are included in my daily prayer at 9am and 4pm. I attach a simple version of Morning and Evening prayer for those who would like to take that up during the week.

So far I have sent out these letters as a group to each congregation with all emails hidden for privacy reasons – it you are happy for me to let your email show so others can communicate with you, do let me know.

Ever present God, Be our comfort in times of uncertainty, our stability in times of change, our peace through anxiety, our companion in all things. Amen


The peace of God remain with you,

Samantha

Other prayers and information for you -

Prayers for National Day of Prayer for Coronavirus

Simple Acts of Worship

Reflections for Candle Prayer Sunday 28th March 2020





24th March update

The Prime Minister announced in his broadcast last night that the sharp rise in infection rates has led the Government to impose severe restrictions on all gatherings and to discourage all unnecessary travelling in order to curtail the spread of the virus. The Archbishop of Canterbury has decided to postpone the Lambeth Conference to 2021 and all church buildings are now closed with immediate effect until further notice.


24th March Letter from Rev'd Samantha

Dear friends,

Each day I think “now we will be able to settle into a new routine” and then we get a new announcement! At my Morning Prayer today I prayed especially for our swift adjustment to the government’s greater restrictions on movement today and for those who are struggling with the thought of them.

I have started phoning people at home and it is lovely to have spoken to some of you. I hope to get to speak to more of you in the days to come. In the meantime, do keep in touch with each other, and let me know (with their permission) if someone you know beyond the church congregation would value this contact. And please, don’t hesitate to call me if you need to.

Over the next days and weeks I will be sending out links and resources for praying at home. Many of you know that my own prayer life is influenced by the teaching of St Ignatius of Loyola whose guiding principle was to help the Creature (that is you and me) to be directly in communication with the Creator (that is God) for themselves, so his spirituality is really good for times when we don’t gather together for guidance and worship together. At the heart of it lies a simple prayer practice which I have talked about. It is called the Examen:

Still yourself and know you are in the presence of the God who loves us more that we can imagine

Ask God to guide you as you look back over your day (or a period of time)

Play back your day or the time chosen to yourself like a slow motion video

Notice the times you felt very alive, full of love, gratitude, close to God and give thanks for these times. Give time to these feeling and this thanks.

Notice the times you felt low, resentful, or were hurtful to others and asking healing or forgiveness for these times

In the light of what you have seen about today, ask God for what you need for tomorrow, just as you would talk to a friend.

Finish with a prayer like the Lord’s Prayer or the Grace.

There are lots of helpful prayer resources like this on the website:

https://pray-as-you-go.org/

Praying for you all – let me know if there is anything in particular.

Ever present God, Be our comfort in times of uncertainty, our stability in times of change, our peace through anxiety, our companion in all things. Amen The peace of God remain with you,

Samantha





19th March 2020

Dear Friends,

As I am sure most of you will already know, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have made the decision that public worship will be suspended until further notice. Therefore we will not be able to gather for worship together on Sundays or during the week. Church buildings can remain open as places of reflection and prayer and we, the people of God, who are the church can and will continue to pray and worship wherever we find ourselves in our daily lives.

I know that for many of you this decision has come as a blow – both personally and because you want the church to offer something to our communities in this challenging time. I share your sadness. Actually though, in losing this precious part of our lives we are standing alongside so many people throughout the world whose lives have been changed by the Covid 19 virus and such solidarity is an offering of love in itself.

In the coming days together we will be discovering new ways to live out the communion with God and each other that we can no longer celebrate in church worship, but we can express by praying when we know others are praying, maintaining a network of friendship through phone calls and email, and where its possible within the government guidelines for the health of all in the community showing care practically. It is my intention to be in contact personally with as many people in the churches and community as possible over the next few days to see how you are, and how I can best be of support to you, especially of spiritual support, in the coming days. Please feel free to contact me by phone or email if you need to and be assured of my love and prayers for you all. I ended my sermon last Sunday with this prayer – which I will be praying for us each day:

Ever present God, Be our comfort in times of uncertainty, our stability in times of change, our peace through anxiety, our companion in all things. Amen

The peace of God remain with you,
Samantha


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A Service for Mothering Sunday 2020 with the Archbishop of Canterbury


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