There is a danger that any church can become so obsessed with its own existence and a narrow focus on “saving souls”, that it forgets Jesus’s teaching on loving others; the parable of the Good Samaritan is there to remind us we need to look outwards to serve and be served. At Billingsley, we try and offer financial support to one or two causes each year, one local and one further afield. This year, our local cause is the Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy, an agency that offers support to those of all faiths and none who are struggling in rural communities such as ourselves. Below is an extract from their website, https://www.borderchaplain.org/ If you are able, remember their work in your prayers.
Borderlands Rural Chaplains work in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Eastern Powys. We are a confidential, listening ear offering pastoral support to farmers, farming families and agricultural communities. Since our inception in 2013 we have helped over 100 individuals and families through difficult situations such as animal disease, family problems, mental ill-health and the demands of farming processes. Funded, supported and managed by churches of different denominations including Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Anglican, we assist in various ways from a one-off phone call to on-going pastoral care. We collaborate with national agencies who can assist farmers with emergency finance.
Working alongside other agencies such as the Farming Community Network, Shropshire Rural Support, The Arthur Rank Centre and The National Farmers’ Union, we are “church without walls”, committed to serving our rural populations.
Re David Poyner
Jesus summarised all the teaching in the Old Testament in two commandments; to love God with all our heart and to love others (our “neighbours”) as ourselves. Jesus stretched the boundaries of who we should consider “neighbours” to include those we do not like and by his example, showed us what it means to live for others. We are now faced with decisions that never occurred in Jesus’s day as we move away from the Covid restrictions, particularly on masks and social distancing. I have to say that in recent weeks, I’ve sometimes pushed the boundaries of the law, where I am with people, who like myself, are fully vaccinated. But, much as I dislike masks, I do worry those who are vulnerable but who cannot have the vaccine; masks do not protect the wearer, they do help those around them. Perhaps this prayer, adapted from the Church of England Daily Office, is appropriate. Lord God, you pour out your love on all humanity. Help us, by small acts of restraint and self-discipline, to share your love amongst all those who we meet. For the sake of your son, who gave himself for us and for others. Amen
Rev David Poyner
A response to Marcus Rashford.
I solemnly promised that after last week, I would no longer write about the football. However, the news is now all about the (racist) abuse being directed at the three English players who failed to score with their penalties. One of these, Marcus Rashford has released a statement, apologising for his missed penalty, but refusing to apologise for who he is; a black Englishman. I offer the following, from the Church of England daily office by way of support. Psalm 133 is a celebration of unity written by the ancient Hebrews perhaps 3000 years ago; “Aaron” in the psalm was the brother of Moses and chosen to be the first chief priest of the nation of Israel. Hermon is a high mountain to the north of ancient Israel; the writer of the psalm imagines water from this flowing all the way to Jerusalem (Zion in the psalm), fertilising the land. This poetic vision of unity and prosperity would have been sung for centuries in a land where there was neither unity nor prosperity; the prayer below is a contemporary response that we can use in a land where black English footballers are abused for the colour of their skins.
Behold how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity.
It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard,
Even on Aaron’s beard, running down upon the collar of his clothing.
It is like the dew of Hermon running down upon the hills of Zion.
For there the Lord has promised his blessing: even life for evermore.
Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Grant to your people, good Lord,
the spirit of unity,
that they may dwell together in your love,
and so bear to the world
the ointment of your healing and the
dew of your blessing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rev David Poyner