For recent copies click on the icon.
The draft Minutes of the March 2020 meeting are available by clicking here.
The next meeting will be at some time in the future.
Many in the parishes are still without broadband at a decent speed. One of the Parish Councillors has taken on the battle to improve matters and the recent news can be found by clicking here.
News and advice from Somerset County Council can be accessed at:
Heavy rains can cause some local flooding and the bridge at Greenham to be overcome for a short time. You can see the state of the river at Greenham as the Gauge Station there records the river level in real time by clicking here.
Details of how you can gain assistance during this period will be published in the Parish News for April wjhich should have hit your doormat. If not you can see an electronic copy (10Mb) here.
The Shop, as the hub of our community, will be coordinating any response that is required in the parish of Stawley and Ashbrittle so if you hear of someone that needs assistance or you need it yourself please either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01823 674361.
There is a lot of good information from Somerset County Council which can be accessed by clicking here.
The draft Minutes of the July meeting are available by clicking here.
The next meeting will be at 7:00pm on the 12th September
Somerset Highways are very good at coming out to fix problems but can only do so if they know there is one! So if you see a pothole or other problem please report it to them by clicking here.
The Village Voice is a publication produced by our neighbours at Thorne . It has details of local food takeaways at Beambridge and the Blue Ball. To see a copy click here.
During our enforced time at home we are hoping to put a thought on the site each day sent to us by Martin Beaumont. As time goes on the older Thoughts will be lost of the page. If you would like to see the older ones please e-mail me and I will send them to you. email@example.com
To-day is Maundy Thursday, from the Latin "mandatum" or "command". "A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another". John 13. v34. They are the words of Jesus at the final meal which he shared with his companions just before he was arrested and the day before his death. The word "companion" also has a Latin derivation and means literally, "someone with whom bread is shared". This sharing of a meal with friends is at the heart of the Christian faith and manifest in The Eucharist.
To-night we were to celebrate this particular evening in the life of the church with our own Eucharist in St.Nicholas", Kittisford. Sadly, we are unable to do so. But we are able to share a meal with those whom we love and in so doing imitate the actions of Jesus. It is love that binds us together and love that we celebrate over the course of the next three days.
Between 1981 and 1985, I served in the Diocese of Exeter as The Bishop's Domestic Chaplain. His name was Eric Mercer and he was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. He had served as a tank commander in World War 2, fought at Anzio and suffered the privations of the Italy campaign. One year, I asked him what he was planning to do on Good Friday after his official engagements were completed. "What I do every Good Friday...my annual Holy Week act of penitence", he replied. I enquired further, expecting some strict religious observance; he was a Bishop after all. "I clean out the freezer", he answered.
Holy Week and particularly Good Friday is a time for penitence. It is a time to consider our lives and our faults and failings. This year, we may not be able to do this in our churches, but it is a worthwhile task nonetheless. Once completed, we can perform an act of contrition; a particular task that confirms our regret and also our intention to try and do better.
The freezer awaits.
Sister Jane SLG was the Mother Superior of the Community of the Sisters of the Love of God for fourteen years. After her death, a small volume was published; a collection of extracts from her letters. Archbishop Robert Runcie said of her, "There is a streak of natural scepticism in her character which makes her words of faith and fortitude still accessible to those who find it difficult to believe".
On this day, April 7th, she wrote to a friend, "Now I am looking out on sunny Sussex countryside, having had a lovely, lazy, yet-more-holiday time here. It seems somewhat obscene to be so idle, but nevertheless I manage it very well." I wonder how we are managing with our enforced idleness? Many of us are unable to work as normal, meet colleagues, travel abroad or even, like Mother Jane, go on holiday. But there are opportunities for joy in our idleness. Whether it be our appreciation of the natural world, the reading of long anticipated books, the invitation of our gardens or the return to a neglected pastime, there are things for us to enjoy. We may even be able to find renewed consolation in the company of those whom we love.
Seemingly, Coronavirus and Brexit together have discouraged many seasonal workers from coming here in the summer. It has been suggested that those laid off in the entertainment and leisure industries, might find alternative seasonal employment in agriculture. However, apparently this is not as easy as it might seem. Many agricultural jobs, although low-paid are not unskilled. Bringing over the same workers to carry out the same task year by year saves time and resources otherwise spent on training inexperienced staff.
It has led me to reflect upon the value of low paid work and the contribution made by the so- called "unskilled". Those who grow food, stack shelves, clean wards and empty bins provide so much of what we really need for our daily life. There would be a detrimental effect on the quality of our lives if their valuable contribution were lost.
When it comes to the common good, surely the supposedly unskilled and the low paid are the equal of us all?
To-day is Palm Sunday. Traditionally it is the day that begins Holy Week and recalls the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, five days before his death. I am always struck on this day by a suspicion that many in the crowd who to-day proclaimed Jesus as The Messiah, will be the same people who on Friday will be calling for His execution.
It leads me to ponder two things. The first is the transience of popularity. World leaders tend to see their approval ratings rise in times of crisis but it would be dangerous to take that popularity for granted. The second is the identity and power we feel as a part of a crowd. Belonging to a large group of like-minded neighbours and friends is uplifting. It can also be persuasive. Social isolation may allow us greater independence of thought and action; some time apart to form our own opinions and act upon them.
In 1652, "A Priest to the Temple or The Country Parson" was published. It was the work of the poet and priest George Herbert who had died in 1633. It is the definitive guide for those who aspire (and fail) to be good parish priests. In Chapter eight he writes,
"The Country Parson, as soon as he awakens on a Sunday morning, presently falls to work and seems to himself so as a Market-man he is, when the market day comes or as a shopkeeper, when customers used to come in."
This is the second Sunday when we find ourselves without church and its services. Our "market" is suspended, our "shop" closed. Some will find consolation in being able to pray at home. Others might find helpful services broadcast either nationally or locally. Here are the details of just four for tomorrow (Palm Sunday, April the 5th).
BBC TV 1100 Sunday Worship from Hereford Cathedral.
1315 Songs of Praise from Glasgow.
Radio 4 0810 Sunday Worship, "Walking in the company of Jesus"
Local 10Radio 105.3 FM 1000 "The Home Service" with The Revd Tim Treanor
I was a little uncertain about standing on our doorstep last night, participating in our appreciation for those hard at work in the NHS. This had nothing to do with any lack of gratitude on my part or an unwillingness to express it. Rather, it was because one of our not too distant neighbours is a young hospital doctor at Musgrove Park Hospital and I didn't want to interrupt an early night or disturb her time-off.
It would seem that many of us have re-discovered our awareness of the debt we owe to many, on whom our lives depend. These include not just doctors and nurses but all those who work in the NHS, Care Homes, and Hospices. It also includes those who deliver and sell our food, dispense our prescriptions and keep us safe. Taking others for granted is something that I do all too easily. This current crisis might serve as a reminder to live more appreciative lives and to express our gratitude in an appropriate manner.
"Do not be afraid about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" Philippians 4 v 6.
If you believe in God, I hope that now is a time for prayer. With our churches closed for the time being, prayer is something we can do wherever we might be. That prayer may sometimes be characterised by gratitude, a sense of thanksgiving for all that we have received. Often our prayer will be a prayer of petition or intercession; prayers where we make specific requests of God. We will be asking God to care for His world and all those whom he has created.
I have never believed that God will change His will or permission in response to any of my requests. But intercession is the way in which we place God's world and ourselves into His hands. It is the way in which we remind ourselves that our cares and concerns are known to God and that He is in charge of our lives.
Finally, prayer may help us to manage those cares, concerns and fears but primarily it will reassure us of God's loving presence in them.
When I was a boy, April the 1st, with its opportunities for making others appear foolish, was a day to which we looked forward.
But in history, a fool was not simply a person who had been tricked. In Shakespeare's "King Lear", possibly written shortly after London was devastated by Plague in 1603, The Fool plays a central role. It is The Fool who is not just the King's faithful companion but also and more importantly, the person who speaks truth to power. It is The Fool who attempts to enlighten his master about the true motives and actions of the King's family and court.
Perhaps at this time, however difficult and disappointing it might be, what we need most from those in government is the truth. We can manage our own concerns and anxieties but we do require accurate information upon which these are based.
I can recall the first time I saw a field of rape. It was in 1978, shortly after I had moved to Wiltshire. Rape was then far too exotic to be sown in my home territory of Yorkshire or Northumberland. Some people find rape a little too garish, but I am fond of it. Its vivid yellow seems to mirror on a large scale the colour of our hedgerows with their dandelions, daffodils and primroses. Many trees and hedges are also beginning to adopt a lighter shade as their foliage returns to life. It was Martin Luther who observed,
"The truth of the resurrection is written in every leaf of spring".
In February 1820, The Reverend Sydney Smith was in correspondence with his friend Lady Georgiana Morpeth.
She had written to him complaining of "low spirits". Sympathetically, he suggests twenty practical steps that might be helpful. Some of these, I try to follow myself.
"First....live as well as you dare.
Fourteenth...be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue."
But my favourite and the one that would seem particularly appropriate at the present time is:
"Fourth...take a short view of human life, no further than dinner or tea."
In the life of the Church, to-day is Passion Sunday. It marks the beginning of Passiontide; a two week period of preparation for the celebration of Easter. In some churches, it is the day when the full account of Jesus' betrayal, suffering and death is read as the gospel passage at The Eucharist.
The word "Passion" comes from the greek word "pasko" which means "to be done to". It is, of course, also the origin of the word "patient". As Jesus allows himself to be taken, to suffer and to die, so patients place themselves into the hands of others. Patients allow themselves to be treated, healed and restored thanks to the skill and devotion of medical staff.
To-day, therefore, is a an appropriate day, not just to think about all of those who find themselves patients but also those who care for them.
Regarded by many as his masterpiece, P.G.Wodehouse's, "Joy in the Morning", was published in the U.K. in 1947. It was begun whilst the author was under house arrest in Le Touquet after the invasion of France in 1940. Later he was sent to an internment camp in Upper Silesia where he wrote to his wife, "If this is Upper Silesia, heaven knows what Lower Silesia is like".
"Joy in the Morning" opens with these words, "After the thing was all over, when peril had ceased to loom and happy endings had been distributed in heaping handfuls, and we were driving home with our hats on the sides of our heads....I confessed to Jeeves that there had been moments during the recent proceedings when Bertram Wooster, though no weakling,
had come near to despair."
I hope and pray that we will, in the words of the Psalmist, find that joy despite the perils of the present time and the temptation to despair.
I have lost count of the number of people who have commented on the weather. We are "lucky", "fortunate", "blessed" to be enjoying the first extended dry and sunny spell of the year. The wind is drying the soil and the farmers and gardeners can get back onto the land.
We are thankful that restrictions on movement and association are not being enforced in the winter. We are also appreciative of the space afforded by living in the country with gardens, lanes and footpaths for exercise. Despite uncertainties and anxieties, a sense of gratitude should be a part of the outlook of every Christian. It was the medieval Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart who once observed, "If the only prayer we say in our lives is 'Thank you", then that is enough"
I understand that about a third of the food produced in this country goes to waste. This may occur between the time it leaves the farm to its processing and delivery to the shelves of our shops. Other waste occurs when food remains unsold and is destroyed or bought and unconsumed.
Much of what we buy is eaten but sadly some cooked food is thrown away. In the present situation, Ruth and I have become more aware of the way we buy food and how and when we use it. Others have commented to me about how often they now shop and the self imposed limits they place upon the buying of their food.
We are certainly encouraged to give more thought to what we need and to refrain from buying too much. The current situation may be a warning to us about food production, distribution, purchase and consumption. It certainly reminds us that what we have and what we think we need is not unlimited.
It is the Feast of the Annunciation, the day when the church recalls the visit of the Angel to Mary, announcing that she will be the mother of her Saviour. It is not coincidental that the feast falls exactly nine months before we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day. Traditionally, to-day was called "Lady Day" and it was the first of the days on which the quarterly agricultural rent was due.
"Lady Day" always reminds me of the interconnection between rural life and the worship of its church. Over the centuries, this rural life and the agriculture that underpins it has seen its fair share of plague, famine, floods and blight and the misery that they cause.
To-day we are faced with another threat to our way of life and there is a considerable amount of uncertainty and anxiety.
However, I have no doubt that this current crisis will be born and ultimately overcome by the resilience of our communities.
By the time we reach the second quarter payment day, which is, June the 24th, I hope and pray that things may be a little clearer.