Monthly Archives: July 2020

Walk through Medieval Billingsley 30th July and Evening Services 26th July and 9th August

This image shows earthworks around Billingsley Church and Hall Farm

Sunday July 26th

6.00pm Billingsley Church: Music and words for a new beginning


Thursday 30th July

7.00pm; Walking through Medieval Billingsley

A guided walk looking at the historic landscape of Billingsley. Meet at the church; refreshments afterwards. Easy walking, 90 minutes.


Sunday August 9th

6.00pm Billingsley Church: Thank you God for birds

A celebration of birds in words and music.


David Poyner, assistant curate, Severn Valley Benefice.   Tel 01562 68638, email

Follow us on Facebook  or our websites, ,  (Billingsley) (Glazeley)

Thought for the week 26th July – God and Money

Thought for the week; God and Money

A new DIY store has opened at the bottom of the road in Kidderminster. How morally superior I feel as I drive past the queues of people waiting to get inside on a Sunday morning!

At Billingsley Church, we’ve just joined Easy Giving. When you make an online purchase from a retailer taking part in the scheme, they make a donation to the church. How virtuous I felt earlier this week when I bought yet more books for myself and raised £5 for the church at the same time!

Yes, there is a contradiction….

You can pick and chose Jesus’s words on money to suit whatever mood you are in. “You cannot serve God and money”; “sell what you possess and give to the poor”. But he also paid taxes to the temple and we know that Judas, the disciple who betrayed him, kept the “common purse”; the money that Jesus used to support himself and his followers. Perhaps the best view is that Jesus was very aware of the dangers of how wealth can corrupt and this is what he was warning against. Indeed, this is a theme that runs through the whole Bible; money, economic activity is recognised as essential for human society but it should never become the purpose of life.

This is particularly pertinent at the moment, when the Government is faced with difficult choices about how to restart the national economy. We need to buy and sell goods; the people queuing at the new shop in Kidderminster were helping to keep the staff who work there in a job. In the current situation, responsible shopping can be seen as a highly moral act.

As a church we naturally honour those who work in caring professions, those whose job involves some kind of sacrifice for the common good. Perhaps we do not do enough to give thanks for the entrepreneurs, the self-employed, the business people who work long hours and risk their own livelihoods to create the wealth that supports us all. Some may become wealthy, but if their efforts give employment and fair wages to others, I suspect they may find it easier to pass through the eye of the needle than myself. We should remember to pray for their efforts, that they may be directed at building a just and fair society.


Evening Services resume at St Mary’s 26th July

Details of events this coming week are below: all are welcome! Please pass these invitations on to anyone who you think might be interested.


Live Service!

Sunday July 26th

6.00pm Billingsley, music and words for a new beginning

1) Wednesday evening catch-up

July 22, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

2) Friday Morning Prayer, 9.00am

July 24, 2020 09:00 AM London

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Service at

3) Friday night prayer

July 24, 2020 09:00 PM London

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Service at

 4) Sunday morning prayer

July 26, 2020 10:00 AM London

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Service at





Thought for the week 19th July – Where prayer has been valid

Thought for the week, July 19th; Where prayer has been valid.


So at last, churches are reopening. Billingsley church has been open to visitors for around three weeks now and I am aware that a number of people have been going in. I would encourage anyone who wishes to visit; the church is always open so just turn up and go in. Today we take another step with our first services; an 8.00am communion in Billingsley followed by a 10.30 service in Glazeley. Next week we have a 6.00pm evening service in Billingsley.

All this raises an important question; why do we bother with our buildings? A couple of weeks ago, I reprinted a cartoon that very powerfully made the point that the church exists wherever people of faith are. In normal times, my altar is my computer in my office at Aston University, where I work four days a week; currently it is the computer in my living room as I work from home. In the days of the early church, the first Christians met in the homes of those who had space to accommodate them. Could we not revert to that for regular worship, or perhaps hire a building if the numbers are large enough? Within the benefice, we have a service that regularly takes place in the Severn Centre in Highley. For many years, some have complained about the way the church spends an inordinate amount of time maintaining buildings it no longer needs.

I understand these arguments and up to a point, I can agree with them. I once lived in Cambridge, where I doubt all the city centre churches and chapels were ever viable. There comes a point where a church, however venerable, is simply unaffordable. But there is another voice that I hear. Particularly in rural benefices such as ours, our churches have been sacred places for a millennium or so; quite possibly the space was used for worship before a stone of our current Norman buildings were laid. There is a quality of peace and simplicity in the buildings and the churchyards that speaks to many, even if they would not wish to identify as Christians. The poet T.S. Elliot seems to me to sum it up in some lines he wrote about a medieval place of pilgrimage, Little Gidding, in East Anglia.

“You are not hear verify, instruct yourself, inform curiosity, or carry report. You are here to kneel, Where prayer has been valid”.

Whilst people still find help in our places, where prayer has been valid, my wish is to keep them open if at all possible.


Little Gidding, verse 3, TS Elliot

If you came this way,

Taking any route, starting from anywhere,

At any time or at any season,

It would always be the same: you would have to put off

Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,

Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity

Or carry report. You are here to kneel

Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more

Than an order of words, the conscious occupation

Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,

They can tell you, being dead: the communication

Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

Here, the intersection of the timeless moment

Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

Services and Events for week beginning 13th July including Church communion services

1) Wednesday evening catch-up

July 15, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

2) Friday Morning Prayer, 9.00am

July 17, 2020 09:00 AM London

Service at


3) Friday night prayer

July 17, 2020 09:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Sunday 19th July; Services in Church!

8.00am Holy Communion, Billingsley

10.30am Holy Communion, Glazeley

These services are open to all. Don’t worry if you don’t want to take communion, you will still be welcome.





Thought for the week 12th July


I suspect I’m not alone in noticing the birds a lot more during lockdown. Without traffic noise, birdsong was often all there was to hear. Driving on empty roads on pastoral work, I noticed how the pheasants had no fear of wondering along the carriage-way. Of course, as lockdown has eased, the birds again are having to compete with human activity. But they are still there; working at home, I see much more of the sparrows and the blackbirds in my garden; the buzzards at Kinlet seem particularly visible this year. How long before they will be joined by the red kites in the Corvedale? And my father has spent most of lockdown in his workshop making bird boxes; we now have one in the churchyard at Billingsley.
Writers from Biblical times onwards have seen something spiritual in birds; in their freedom and in their flight. A friend, ordained at the same time as myself, is Professor of Applied Ethnobiology and Conservation at Oxford University. In simple terms, he studies bird behaviour and evolution and this informs his faith. But you don’t have to be scientist or a scholar to be enjoy birds or to wonder at them. A few days ago, I came across this rather quirky prayer by the Australian poet Michael Leunig. The next time you get chance to watch any bird, give thanks to God for them and the way they enrich our lives and our planet.
Dear God,
We give thanks for birds. All types of birds.
Small birds and large birds.
Domestic fowl, migratory birds and birds of prey,
hooting birds, whistling birds, shrikes,
coloured parrots and dark darting wrens.
Birds too numerous to mention.
We pray for them all.

We mourn the loss of certain species
and pray for the deliverance of endangered ones.
We pray, too, for farm birds,
that they may be released from cruelty and suffering.

We give thanks for eggs and feathers,
for brave, cheerful songs in the morning
and the wonderful haunting, night prayers of owls,
…. and all nocturnal fowl.

We praise the character of birds, their constancy,
their desire for freedom, their flair for music and talent for flying.
May we always marvel at the ability to fly.

Especially we praise their disregard for human hierarchy
and the ease with which they leave their droppings
on the heads of commoners or kings regardless.

Grant them fair weather, fresh food and abundant materials
for building their nests in spring.
Provide them too with perches and roosts with pleasant aspects.

Dear God, guide our thoughts to the joy and beauty of birds.
Feathered angels.
May they always be above us. 


Thought for the week 6th July – Hail Mary, full of grace, prophet for our age?

Thought for the week 5th July; Hail Mary, full of grace, prophet for our age?

Billingsley and Highley churches are dedicated to St Mary, the mother of Jesus. And in a corner of Billingsley, there is a statue of her. Like most statues, it shows a demure young woman, probably full of grace but also meek and obedient, her head bowed.

I’m not sure whether the real Mary would recognise herself in that statue. She certainly was obedient to the will of God, but the 50ish widow who stood at the foot of the cross was probably a tough and determined woman. She could not be ignored by the early church; St Luke may well have spoken to her when he was collecting material for his Gospel. At any rate, her voice speaks throughout his work, but most especially in the hymn of praise that for centuries have been known as the Magnificat. It tells of Mary’s response to the message of the Angel, that she would be the mother of Jesus, God’s anointed one. But the words are not those of sweet, demure teenager; think instead Greta Thunberg. Mary speaks as a prophet, proclaiming the God will bring about a radical transformation of society. There are many musical settings of the Magnificat, but a particular striking one is “The Canticle of the Turning”, written by Rory Cooney in 1990.

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,

And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.

You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,

So from east to west shall my name be blest.  Could the world be about to turn?

My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn.

Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!


Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me.

And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.

Your very name puts the proud to shame, and those who would for you yearn,

You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.


From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone.

Let the king beware for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne.

The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;

These are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.


Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:

God’s mercy must deliver us from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.

This saving word that our forbears heard is the promise that holds us bound,

‘Til the spear and rod be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn.

Wipe away all tears, For the dawn draws near, And the world is about to turn.


It is set to the Irish folk tune, “Star of the County Down” and there are a number of recording available on the internet; for example at

Covid has reminded all society of the values of God’s Kingdom; the appreciation shown to key workers, the coming together of communities. Many who have joined in this have no faith and yet the Holy Spirit can work in all. As we emerge into our new, post-Covid world, is the world truly about to turn according to Mary’s vision?

Services nd events for week beginning 6th July

Details of events this coming week are below: all are welcome! Please pass these invitations on to anyone who you think might be interested.


1) Wednesday evening catch-up

July 8, 2020 07:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

2) Friday Morning Prayer, 9.00am

July 10, 2020 09:00 AM

Join Zoom Meeting

Service at

3) Friday night prayer

July 10, 2020 09:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Service at

 4) Sunday morning prayer

July 12, 2020 10:00 AM

Join Zoom Meeting

Service at