St Agatha A woman of Billingsley Church
4.00pm Friday 2nd July; 100 Club Draw – Lincoln Fields
6.00pm Sunday 11th July; The Women of Billingsley Church
Billingsley Church has been shaped by women; come along to hear their stories
7.00pm Wednesday 21st July; A celebration of Billingsley Churchyard
We celebrate the spirituality of the natural world by focussing on our churchyard, using music, words and time for reflection.
12 noon Saturday 24th July; Auction for local churches, Chelmarsh Parish Hall
Please contact Bonnie Garvey (01746 552567/ email@example.com or myself if you have any items you can donate for this.
8.00am Sunday 25th July; Holy Communion
A simple service of Holy Communion to start the day.
6.45pm Thursday 29th July; A walk around Chelmarsh
Meet outside Chelmarsh Church (easy parking!) for a walk around the reservoir and the common
David Poyner, assistant curate, Severn Valley Benefice. Tel 01562 68638/ 0121 204 3997; email D.R.Poyner@aston.ac.uk Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BillingsleyChurch/ or our websites, www.st-marys-billingsley.org.uk , https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/10415/
The churchyard at St Mary’s is wildlife treasure.
The land has never been intensively managed or subject to chemical fertilisers or herbicides which make it a unique and special place. It is managed very specifically to increase biodiversity for flora and fauna and provides niche habitats for many insects, small mammals and birds. Various zones are managed to create different environments; you can find out more by looking at the management plan. At certain times of the year the grounds may appear ‘untidy’ but nature prefers it this way and we are happy to let the wildflowers grow and scatter their own seeds. You will notice that in corners of the churchyard piles of wood have been deliberately left to give shelter and will rot down providing valuable food for decomposers.
The churchyard is a peaceful and tranquil haven that can be enjoyed by humans too. Explore the grounds and see what you can spot. There are many things to look out for such as the ancient yews which are amongst the oldest in the whole county dating back many centuries. During the winter the ground is blanketed by snowdrops, in spring the primroses are a welcome sight amongst other early flowers. By the summer wild flowers grow within the tall grasses and in autumn many very beautiful varieties of fungi appear. The memorable stones provide special habitats to lichens and sloe worms and newts have been spotted. Take a while to sit, stop and listen to the birdsong or just the wind rustling through the trees. Relax and feel at ease and enjoy this very special place that we want to share.
In the church there is a new display with lots of news and updates regrading the environmental work that has been carried out and how the churchyard is managed throughout the year. In addition you will find numerous guides and resources to enable you to enjoy your very own wildlife safari in the church grounds.
There is something that will appeal to all ages and everyone is very welcome; don’t forget to share the discoveries you make on your safari.
St Mary’s Church has been awarded a bronze Eco Church award as part of a Rocha UK project. St Mary’s is the first church in the Severn Valley benefice to receive an award. More details of the scheme can be found on their website https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/how-eco-church-works/
As a member of this scheme St Mary’s completed an Eco Survey which covered different areas of how the church contributes to God’s Earth in different areas of its life and work. The answers provided gained points towards an Eco Church Award – the more any church does, the more points they get! St Mary’s is now looking to build upon the progress already made to gain a silver award.
The survey covers five key areas of church life:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
As a scientist, I am ultimately judged by the work I produce. The way that is done in science is by publishing results in papers in specialist journals; these describe the work and its significance. But beyond that lies much politics. Most projects involve a number of people; how many of these have contributed enough to be included as authors? Then there is the order of authors; first author usually did most of the experiments, the final author usually planned it; 2nd or 3rd from first or last isn’t too bad; not good if you are the middle where most end up. The person in charge of the paper sometimes needs considerable tact and diplomacy in order to draw up the author list. Equally, an important lesson for a young scientist to learn is a true estimation of their own value in a project. False modesty and inappropriate self-importance are equally wrong; the former as it simply encourages the latter individuals in their own delusions.
Jesus never had to sort out the author list on an academic paper, but he did have to deal with egos of his followers, some of whom seem to have been very keen on status. He used the story of guests at a wedding to urge his followers to sit at lowest place on the table, not the highest. There is perhaps a danger that this can be seen as way of getting approval, as the host, very publicly, has to encourage the individuals to a better place. But the most striking teaching is at the last supper, when Jesus, very much in charge of the event and clearly the leader, takes on the role of a servant to wash the feet of his disciples. Here Jesus demonstrates how it is possible to reconcile being a leader with acting a servant to those he had to lead. It is the balance between recognising our worth (with the responsibilities that brings) alongside a recognition of the value of others.
Meet at the Baptist Chapel in Chorley at 6.45pm for an evening walk to Stottesdon and back. Everyone welcome!
Power and the Kingdom
We have had a number of meetings between world leaders in the last few days; the G7 in Cornwall, President Biden meeting Boris Johnson and then President Putin. We need leaders, politicians who are prepared to take decisions, hopefully for the common good. And it is not just the prime ministers and presidents; our own members of Parliament also do us an essential service by debating the affairs of our nation. Each day, before parliamentary business begins, the chaplain to the speaker says a short prayer in the house of commons. It reminds MPs and ourselves that the exercise of power is necessary and can be a force for good, if it is done for the benefit of those MPs serve and not themselves. This sacrificial power is that was exercised by Jesus and underpins the kingdom he proclaimed.
“Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.”
1) Wednesday Home Group, 7.00pm,
We continue with session 3 of “Living in Faith and Hope”. Don’t worry if you haven’t attended a session before; much to my surprise (!), the videos are really rather good and self-contained.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 359 285 1895
2) Friday night prayer, 9.00pm
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 359 285 1895
And so we brace ourselves for another summer of sport. Well, at least I do. Test matches have resumed in front of spectators! And then there are the Euro’s; the European Football Championship, featuring England, Scotland and Wales. Whilst it is not my favourite, there is also Wimbledon.
Sport can bring out many things in people. Some of course simply don’t see the point of it; it’s boring, it’s not important. Others find at least some aspects of it repellent; they see it as an excuse for tribalism, it encourages violence and narrow-mindedness, it has been corrupted by power and money. There is some truth in this, but it can also bring people together; I know of the emails I’ve exchanged with a colleague in Iran, discussing football as well as science; going into a bar in a country where I do not speak the language but being welcomed to watch a match on the big screen.
Oddly enough, football and cricket do not greatly feature in the Bible, but St Paul does use images drawn from athletics and boxing, the big sports of his day to emphasise the need for endurance and persistence in the life of faith. And the secular French philosopher and goalkeeper, Albert Camus, wrote “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football “. As a vicar, sport teaches me to accept disappointment and triumph as part of human life; a message that we can find in the Bible in the books of Job, Ecclesiastes and elsewhere. So I will enjoy and endure England this summer, with Job and St Paul for company.
The June draw of the 100 Club has taken place and thank you to Gill of Bynd Lane who did the honours. The first number out of the bag, 15, won fellow Bynd Lane resident, Mike, £59. In second place was number 31 and in third place was number 39. All three numbers made their first appearance in ‘winners row’.
Money raised by the 100 Club to help fund the upkeep of the church and grounds in Billingsley and help community projects has been a lifeline during these Covid times when all fundraising activities have been suspended. Thank you to all our supporters and if you wish to join in the fun there are still numbers available. See details on the website.
Thursday was an important day for English cricket; for the first time since lockdown, a test match was played in front of spectators. It was a particularly important day for fast bowler Ollie Robinson, making his debut and indeed performing well. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the news that Robinson had posted racist and sexist tweets on social media. They dated back to 2012, when Robinson was 18, but the damage had been done. He was forced into reading a prepared statement, apologising for the views he then expressed.
There are a number of lessons here. One is a warning of the dangers of social media; once something has been posted, it cannot be unposted. Robinson is not the first to be caught by this, nor will he be the last. It was appropriate that he did issue an apology; most will hope he really has changed his views. But the episode also has a warning for us, there indeed, but for the grace of God, go I. And it’s not just the thoughts I had when I was 18 that trouble me…. I really do hope that my private thoughts, my unguarded comments, those things that open a window on the parts of me I would rather not own, stay private; at least to hearers in this world. But I do need to recognise and own them to myself and to God. This is essential for my healing and repentance; God alone can transform and change me.
Gracious God, you know our every thought. When we come to you ashamed and bewildered by our private words and deeds, show us your mercy, guide us in repentance and bring us to new life. Amen.