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News and Letters from Rev'd Samantha
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With the lockdown rules in place again as from 5th November all services are suspended.






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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