Monthly Archives: May 2021

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

Romans 8: 12-17 and John 3: 1-17

Both the industries that I worked in before I retired were subject to regular inspections – in the bank we had inspectors who would descend without notice – carefully timing it so that they arrived just as we were about to close the doors to the public, and they would then stand behind each cashier as they balanced their till.  In Adult Learning we were subject to Ofsted inspections – and with them you could receive advance warning that they were coming, although not always.  In both cases, the inspectors were people who had done the jobs they were inspecting, and knew how it should be done, and all the tricks people might try to hide things that were not quite right.

Nicodemus is a good church person, he knows how things ought to be done according to the law.  We are not told, and have no way of finding out why he came to talk with Jesus – or why he came by night.  There are lots of possible reasons and we have considered several of them at various times.   As a member of the ruling body of the temple in Jerusalem, he could almost have been sent to check that Jesus is doing things properly.  We often meet Jesus talking with church leaders – they know the proper way to do things.  Even the disciples at times try to put Jesus straight, and we read that Peter is caught out in the days of the early church trying to return to doing things ‘properly’ rather than being guided by the spirit.

Despite his very courteous opening of the discussion, Jesus tells Nicodemus from the outset that he has no way of knowing what God is like – God doesn’t fit into a proper procedure.  Nicodemus has started the conversation with a compliment, ‘Nobody could do the things that you do unless God was with him’ which Jesus throws straight back at him – effectively saying ‘how would you know that?  Only people who have been born again can know about God’.  Sadly, in recent years, the description ‘born again Christian’ has become somewhat debased currency.  We associate it with people who shout long sermons at Speakers Corner, or go from door to door with tracts asking people if they have been saved.  And yet the need to be born again came straight from Jesus, and if we are ever tempted to say that the description ‘born again Christian’ does not apply to us, then we need to come back to this passage in John 3 and remember what Jesus said.

At a recent PCC meeting, Alison asked us all what we were most hoping for, for the future.  There was a variety of answers, but the one that most people agreed on was that they wanted things to return to normal.  I am sure that every one of us had a different picture in our heads of what normal looked like, but even so, I don’t think that is going to happen.

I believe that just as He was when Jesus came to earth, God is doing a new thing with us now.  I wish I could give you some idea what that was, but I have no more knowledge than you – it will be something exciting and maybe scary at times.  I believe that things here will be changing and our faith may be tested.  I don’t know how yet, and it may be uncomfortable.  As the Queen said in a recent broadcast, has been a bumpy ride for some of us – and there may be more bumps to come but God is still in charge.

I was recently reminded that you cannot have a flower without the bud breaking, a chick cannot hatch without smashing through its comfortable and protective shell, and I was told that unless a butterfly or moth has to struggle to escape the chrysalis, it won’t be able to fly.  As the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.  The past year has put stresses on members of our clergy that they were not trained to cope with.  Asked them time after time to complete tasks that have never been on the theological college curriculum.  I doubt if you will ever hear a would-be ordinand telling a selection conference that they feel convinced that God is calling them, to use their skills in risk assessment and making the best use of Zoom.  I don’t know what Alison was asked about when she was interviewed before coming here, but I doubt very much if it was about her experience in infection control and video editing.  I wonder if Jesus considered assessing the risk before riding into Jerusalem?  I should say at this point that I do see the wisdom in assessing the risks at a time like this has been.

Nicodemus could have been checking that Jesus is doing his signs in accordance to the approved guidelines of the Temple authorities, and it is no wonder that he finds it hard to understand what Jesus tells him, because Jesus has come to teach that God is doing a new thing and if we in Wincanton and Pen Selwood go back to doing what we have always done, I would venture to suggest that it will have the same effect on the town and village that it has always had.

The story of Nicodemus is one that John uses to get over some important truths to us as well as to the Jewish authorities.  Throughout the conversation, Jesus is gently playing with words that can be understood more than one way – he talks of being born ‘again’, or equally ‘from above’ and in the next verse talks about the effect of the wind or spirit – in both cases the words are interchangeable.  Just as we can see and feel the effect of the wind, so too we can see the work of the Holy Spirit, and the only clue we get about the future is that the Spirit goes where it wills, and we will see the effects.

I once promised some of you that although I could not promise never to quote C S Lewis in a sermon, I was unlikely to quote from a book about Narnia, but I am going to break that promise now.  In ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ there is an occasion when Aslan plays with Susan and Lucy.  Speaking of this time of play Lucy later says she can never make up her mind whether it was more like playing with a kitten or a thunderstorm.  Perhaps that is what life would be like if we allowed the Spirit to blow where she wills.  Up until now, our tactics have been to meet inside these four walls, and hope that invitations and the occasional special service will encourage people to join us.  Lots of people have been here on special occasions: – at Christmas, Remembrance and Harvest, and especially for school services and baptisms, but very few of them seem to have found anything that seems to inspire them to come again.  Could it be that we are hiding God in a building?  I have often thought that we are good at getting caught in in-between spaces – I think the fashionable word at the moment is liminal space.  Could we be stuck between Ascension and Pentecost?  That we have seen Jesus return to his father, but have not yet fully embraced the inspiration and power of the Spirit?  We read last week what the effect of that was on the apostles! At the end of the recorded version of last Sunday’s worship, Alison used the words of Commitment for Pentecost – several questions which each begin with the words ‘Will you dare…’ and to each the response is ‘We will’.  I do recommend that you look at this if you have not seen it, and look at it again if you have.  Within this section of the service are the words ‘Today we have remembered the coming of God’s power on the disciples and we invite that same Spirit to drive us out into the wild places of the world.’  You could say that the strength of the wind last Sunday turned Pen Selwood itself into one of the wild places of the world, but on a more serious note, I wonder how keen any of us really is to go into wild and possibly dangerous places trusting in the Spirit’s protection.  I wonder if we have become too comfortable where we are?

We do know that Nicodemus did not go away disappointed by his conversation with Jesus, because he occurs again by name in the Gospels when as a friend of Joseph of Arimathea, he goes with him to request permission to bury Jesus body after his crucifixion.  That was venturing into a wild and dangerous place, and would have set him against both the Roman and the Temple authorities.  Perhaps one reason he had the courage to do this was because he was one of the first people to hear Jesus summing up of God’s amazing plan for the redemption of the world in verse 16 – surely one of the best-known verses in the whole of the Bible.  We also, perhaps, have a clue as to why the story of his talk with Jesus occurs at night.  When Nicodemus came to Jesus he was in the dark, but surely he left in the light.  We have the privilege of meeting with Jesus too – do we dare to take his light with us when we leave?

Link to Sunday’s video reflection is:

Pentecost – Rev Alison Way – 23rd May 2021

Link to the video reflection:

Acts 2:1-21, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

In the name of the living God, Almighty Father, Risen Son and ever present Holy Spirit. Amen

What happened on the day of Pentecost sounds pretty staggering as well as spectacular, and we have to wonder what it was like to have been there. For the disciples and the crowd gathered inside that day – (it had been about 120 people earlier in the week), a stunning experience and a spiritual awakening through the noise like the rush of the violent wind and with the tongues of fire resting on each one of them. And then suddenly the ability to speak in other languages as the same Spirit gave them the ability. There are things we don’t know about this – did the Spirit give them the words and the understanding of what they were saying. Or were they saying things without knowing what they were saying? It could well have been the latter as it was more important that the people around them heard the message in their native language and could act on it, than they understood themselves what they were saying. We will never know for sure.

I have always been very impressed with linguistic ability in others. This is definitely not one of my best gifts. I do have an O-level in French, but I was much better at reading and comprehension than speaking. (In fact I remember my French teacher being very frustrated with my spoken French with a pronounced south London accent!) I have been particularly impressed with people who can translate readily from one language to another, and particularly when the going gets technical. I remember on a work visit to Evreux in  France looking at different models of ministry, when I was working in Salisbury Diocese. Over one of the meals I had quite a complicated discussion about my calling as a priest with a devout Roman Catholic nun (I was the first female priest she had ever encountered). All our interactions were translated by the then Archdeacon of Sherborne, who spoke French very fluently! It wasn’t quick but it was very profound!

Being able to hear the message in their own language caused quite a stir in multicultural Jerusalem and by the end of the day (though the extract from Acts we heard didn’t get that far) 3000 people were baptised… That’s 25 people for each person originally gathered if there were 120 people but it could be there were far less than that in the room at the start of the day! – whatever all that was going on here was really quite impressive! Imagine if we spoke and 25 people turned to Christ if it helps!

The gathered crowd who heard the talking said they were talking about God’s deeds of power. Though not everyone gathered were caught up in this (accusing them of being filled with wine!), it is still a huge number who were inspired to become followers of Jesus. I have never known drink to improve people’s linguistic abilities and it was also as we hear from Peter a little further on in this reading – much to early in the day!

Over these past months in lockdown and gently moving out of it, we have been hearing about God’s deeds of power worked through the life and times of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  From Jesus birth, through his life with healings, miracles and teaching, to as we drew closer to Easter, his death and then rising again. Changing the world, once and for all and forever as I often say, conquering death – and opening the way for the coming of the Spirit in power. Our gospel reading also touched on how it had to be this way – Jesus saying ‘If I do not go away – the Advocate (Another word for the Holy Spirit) will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you’.

The Holy Spirit is how we connect and know God’s love for us in Jesus. It is the sense we have of God’s presence with us and one of the ways we are guided in the chances and choices of life, alongside exploring the scripture, handed down tradition, wise counsel and our sense of calling. In this week when we are giving thanks for the work of the Spirit in us and the work of our churches through our annual meetings, it is right to pray for the Spirit to fill us afresh for the challenges ahead of us. The knowns and the unknowns of opening out as the time comes. For some this will be too quick, for others too slow – whatever we will maintain our safety first approach and move forward at a pace where we can do the necessary safely. We will definitely need the Spirit’s guidance and no doubt do quite a lot of work too – to make this possible.

There are a set of prayers which encompass how the Spirit works   – where we pray for the different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. If you are watching this on the video, I pray the prayers after this reflection and I will also include the text of them on the Pentecost post on the Wincanton parish church website. The aspects are: –

  • The strength of the Holy Spirit in our service of God.

  • The wisdom of the Holy Spirit to understand God’s will for us.

  • The peace of the Holy Spirit for confidence to follow our calling.

  • The healing of the Holy Spirit where we need it to bring reconciliation and wholeness.

  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip us for the work we have ahead.

  • And the fruit of the Holy Spirit, so that God’s love is what people see in us.

I have been particularly focussing on praying for the Spiritual fruit of joy and patience in recent weeks to help us in these strange times in which we live. The Holy Spirit is with us as our breath too. At the end of John’s gospel it says – Jesus breathed on them and said – Receive the Holy Spirit.

One of the techniques in today’s world of mindfulness is to tune in on our breathing and reconnect with it or take time to breathe in and out deeply. The centering strength of this is something Christians have known for many centuries. And I will always recommend it as a simple and effective way to reconnect, and move us into a more reflective and open space in the way God would have us travel.

To finish I do think we need to concentrate on being open to the Spirit’s stirrings and for our Spiritual fruit to be uppermost. This will help our message of love for everyone to be what people see in us. so let’s particularly focus

  • on the strength the Spirit can bring,

  • the healing the Spirit can work in us,

  • the gifts we need from the Spirit to face the challenges ahead,

  • the fruit with which we can be blessed,

  • and knowing God through the Spirit in every breath.


We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit. Generous God,  we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit. We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better. Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit. We ask you to make us wise to understand your will. Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit. We ask you to keep us confident of your love, wherever you call us.Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit. We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness where there is division, sickness and sorrow. Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit. We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.
Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit. We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus. Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit, given by the risen Lord. We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed, in the joy of eternal life. Lord, come to bless us.
All: and fill us with your Spirit.

Generous God, you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the River Jordan, and upon the disciples in the upper room. In your mercy fill us with your Spirit. hear our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy for ever.  Amen.


Copyright acknowledgement – Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000-2020, New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989

Easter 7 Rev Alison Way May 16th 2021

The link to the reflection video is:

Acts 1:15-17, 21-end, John 17:6-19

In the name of the living God, Heavenly Father, Risen Son and ever present Holy Spirit.

We tune into the disciples this morning in the between times – Jesus has ascended back to the Father, and they are awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit in power on the day of Pentecost. They have gathered together and devoted themselves to prayer, and this is the basis of setting aside the 10 days between Ascension and Pentecost as a special time of prayer –  the modern ‘Thy Kingdom come’ initiative, which we may have heard of mirrors this approach.

The disciples and Jesus followers took time out to pray with the final words of Jesus ringing in their ears – where he said as he ascended. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” They gathered to pray and through the next 10 days – they prayed frequently.

I can’t speak for all of us but I am not sure my first instinct is always as spot on as this…. None of our more worldly responses to a lull in the action, will get us as far as praying does. Those worldly responses might well include:-

  • Have a good panic!

  • Letting anxiety get the better of us

  • Or wallowing in some guilt about something we have not done (or not done as well as we wanted)

  • Another favourite in a lull is ‘ostrich behaviour’ putting our heads in the sand and trying to ignore the present reality (or elephant in the room!)

Praying and praying frequently needs to be high up on the agenda of our hearts and lives…. The life of discipleship is about developing first rather than last instinct prayerfulness! The example of the disciples, the women and Jesus family is definitely an example of first instinct prayerfulness. It said in our reading the crowd gathered for prayer was around 120! Something exciting is coming – what shall we do – their answer and ours should be PRAY and rest in God’s presence.

So, the first and repeated thing the disciples did after the ascension of Jesus was pray. No doubt first instinct prayerfulness is the way to go for us too!  There are lots of things to pray about at the moment. In a way I hope we are on the cusp of more exciting times as well, which in the same way as it did for the disciples, makes the prayer all the more important.

  • We need to pray for wisdom in all those leading our country for the changes ahead and how organisations will implement them wisely.

  • We need to pray for the team who develop the Government guidelines for places of worship to fit how the Church works.

  • We need to pray for all people all impacted by recent times in different ways – from those who are ready to go and get on with it – to those who for good reason have hardly left their houses for 16 months

  • We also need to pray for our world particularly for the covax scheme and for an equitable distribution of vaccines, and for those countries at the moment experiencing peaks, huge difficulties and death rates. As a world living so closely inter-related with one another, we need a global solution moving forward.

  • We also need to pray for this town that we serve, and our fellowship how we respond and build up our worshipping life together.

During the pandemic days I have been working primarily with small working groups in both churches, individuals to whom we owe a huge debt. We have worked with the PCCs as best as we have been able to and we have been unable to use the volunteers for various things we would usually do for a selection of good reasons. As we open out, I very much hope we will be able to share the load more widely once again. Naturally, as we approach our annual meetings – this is also a time for some responsibilities to shift and new members of the teams to emerge. Please pray we find a way through this with a full team in place

The Church is designed to be a team effort not the endeavours of a few. Stopping sharing the load more widely – is very much against the grain for me, and is what church should be about. This was forced upon us by the circumstances we found ourselves in. It is absolutely not my usual starting point, which is much more biblical. We remember that in the 1st Letter of Corinthians – St Paul uses the parts of the body to describe this. So that the church as a whole is the body of Christ – with each member representing a different part we need.  This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.

Paul goes on to address that he needs everyone from the weakest to the strongest and that all have something important and unique to contribute. That was true then and just as it is so very true now.

Returning to Peter and the apostles in Acts into this period of praying, they had a meeting and Peter addressed all the gathered believers about filling the gap in the team left by Judas. There is no question in his mind that the gap needed to be filled and this represents an understanding of our approach needing to fill the gaps in our team moving forward. Pray please for our annual meetings in the days ahead –which is fulfilling this same purpose.

Moving on to our gospel reading – this is amongst the last words Jesus said to his disciples at the last supper. Judas has already left the room and he is trying to prepare them for the days ahead. I have little doubt the original hearers would have not completely understood what Jesus was getting at in the moment, but subsequently remembered his words and been empowered by them.

Jesus is praying in this reading and in a way in this prayer, Jesus summarizes the message of the whole Gospel: Which is that what Jesus has received from his Father, he has given to his friends (ie us). And as Jesus entrusts the disciples and therefore us to the Father’s care, he reminds them and us that he has sent us all into the world, as the Father sent him. Effectively all of this has a purpose that as Jesus friends we should share his message whenever, wherever or however we can.

One verse within it really struck me and it is Jesus saying and praying the words – 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I was very concerned when we began to worship again last summer. How this was going to be with all the restrictions and having to do so many thing so differently and omit things I didn’t want to omit! Also knowing that some could come and some could not or should not. Therefore also not being able to give the welcome and fellowship readily we have hitherto taken for granted. Yet God was still in the heart of what we were able to do, and his presence with us has been tangible. It has been different obviously, yet God has been with us in it all –  very much so – over and against and through any misgivings I may have had!

As a church we are first and foremost in the loving business – to love God and reach out with that love to others. Moments of joy – which is a fruit of the Spirit have still enriched our walk with God in these days. Joy is a funny and surprising commodity – we can be joyful (and yet still very sad). We can be joyful with the tears streaming or with love and laughter abounding or all of the above. Our final need for prayer today is to pray for the spiritual fruit of joyfulness in ourselves and those around us.

In a way the pandemic has taught us to be more thankful and joyful in the every day. Each small thing we can renew or revive should bring us this Joy. Jesus prayed for his disciples and prayed for us that his joy may be made complete in us. If we are reading this I want us to reflect on the hymn Crown him with many crowns – associated with this time of year in the Church (there is a link to a video version). It reminds us of the wonder and joy of our faith. Through the verses we crown him the lamb upon the throne, the Virgin’s son, the Lord of love, the Lord of peace and the final magnificent verse the lord of years, the potentate of time. I think that gets across the joy we need to concentrate on and cultivate in this next period alongside the need to pull together to serve God as only we can.  Amen

A video link to the hymn Crown him with many crowns.

CCLI – Song  reproduced under CCLI 217043 for St Peter and St Paul’s Church Wincanton

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989

Easter 6 – Rogation – Year B – May 9th 2021 – Rev Alison Way

Link to Rev Alison Way’s video reflection and rogation litany

Acts 10:44-end, John 15:9-17

In the name of the Living God: Loving Father, Risen Son and ever present Holy Spirit, Amen

The sixth Sunday of Easter is traditionally the trigger to start 3 days of prayer called rogation in the lead up to Ascension day on Thursday. If we have been using the daily prayer resources we have been praying for rogation in the week just passed. The word rogation comes from the latin to ask and was inspired by the collect for this Sunday in the book of common prayer, which includes whatsoever ye shall ask for in my Name – he will give it you. These words of Jesus were also found towards the end of the gospel set for today.

Originally rogation was adapted akin to some Greek and Roman traditions, and included praying for the crops via an annual procession, and the marking of parish boundaries. This was one of the things that was surpressed during the reformation, being restored once again in 1559. The poet and priest George Herbert who was based not too far from here in a rural parish near Salisbury said of this occasion.

Rogationtide should be about asking God’s blessing upon the fields, a sense of justice in keeping the boundaries of the fields, caring for each other, in the model of the village walking together as it beat the bounds, offering a time for reconciliation and friendship, and care for the poor by the distribution of charity.

Let’s take those ideas in turn and dwell a little within their wisdom – It is always important to pray for the land and those who work it – all the different types of crops and livestock. Perhaps we could take a moment and pause here to think about what issues there might be. For example we will have read in the press about issues with the lack of workers to gather essential harvests. This was certainly true for some bulb growers earlier in the year and has the potential to impact our soft fruit harvest. There are also impact on any harvest that is traditionally exported and how that is working  (particularly problematic for the harvest of fish, fish farming and seafood). When I spoke to Charles Buckler his first thought was the need for rain, so the grass would grow better to feed his livestock. The very cool dry spring is another concern and maybe we should be evoking the prayer book prayer for rain and warmth to swell the grain!

Other things we should reflect on and pray for are all those who bring the food we eat to our tables in all the aspects of the food supply chain. We have choices we make day by day in how we live lightly on the ground God has given us.

Our gospel reading today has given us one of the many growth and growing analogies that Jesus used. It goes like this:-You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. This is interesting – fruit by in large doesn’t last! It has a moment of peak ripeness and tastiness (and then quite quickly starts to rot!). Fruit only lasts with our  intervention, and we have become quite inventive over the years in intervening. In a way in this instance our fruitfulness and that lasting says more about the work of the Holy Spirit in us – which makes that so! The Holy Spirit has always been inventive in intervening!

Interestingly the fruitfulness Jesus is most asking for us is that we love one another, which is another theme that George Herbert takes up with his thoughts about caring for each other in the sense of a small community. What George Herbert said was caring for each other, in the model of the village walking together as it beat the bounds, offering a time for reconciliation and friendship. It is interesting what we have learnt about our friendships in recent times. I don’t know about you but I have been managing in recent weeks to see a few family members and a handful of friends. Mostly those relatively local to here! It has been such a joy to actually see people – rather than talk on the phone or on a screen. Friends have always been important to us – I think we understand that in a refreshed way now! Up to now I have always enjoyed a chinwag over a good cup of coffee! It will be good when we can do that more and more in the days ahead.

Friendship plays a key role in our relationship with Jesus too, Jesus says in our gospel passage- I have called you friends. This is to indicate the kind of relationship we are to have with Jesus based on love, support and companionship. This is not a relationship based on compulsion or having to follow orders. It is about our commitment not Jesus commanding us. It has to be that way so it is a conscious choice on our part. We are not mindless automatons – we are free spirits. There is a selection of responsibilities on us in being Jesus’ friends – which is all about the fruit stuff I was talking about before.

This verse John 15 15 – I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from my father – has travelled with me for a long time – it was preached at my confirmation many moons ago! The preacher was Bishop Michael Marshall, the then Bishop of Woolwich who went on to be one of the evangelists in the decade of evangelism at the turn of the Millennium. It made a deep impression on me at the time, partly because Bishop Michael reminded us that the word we hear as servant (who does his master’s bidding) could also be translated as slave (with no rights at  all). What Jesus offers us in friendship is a very, very long way from being his slave. It is about all of us – following the way God has for us – responding to his call. It is a heart, mind and body thing, not just something we are doing because we are ‘owned’ like a slave.

A final part of what George Herbert attributes to rogation is about reconciliation and recognising boundaries. Reconciliation is good for us, and something that should  characterise our abiding in God’s love for us as described  by Jesus in this gospel. Holding on to bitterness and malice towards others is bad for us – I am not saying seeking reconciliation is always easy but it is the way Jesus would have us walk if we can. (I appreciate there are some circumstances where it is not possible or practical.)

George Herbert’s take on boundaries also struck me. He said a sense of justice in keeping the boundaries of the fields. Though originally this is about recognising what is yours from mine, in crops and livestock terms this is clearly not taking what is not ours. Using the phrase ‘a sense of justice in keeping the boundaries’ can be applied much more widely. A sense of justice means recognising when our society and our world order favours one over and against another, and doing whatever we can to try to break down such injustices.  This is a big topic, but again plays into our sense of loving one another and bearing fruit. Ultimately Jesus is asking us to dig deeper (not always easy) and reminds us earlier in this reading of the consequences, where I will finish these reflections.

Jesus said – I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Let us pray

God of all, we give you thanks for the gift of friendship: for the giving and the receiving; for the opportunities and the challenges; for the laughter and the tears; for the conversations and the silence; for the moments and the memories. Draw us deeper into your love and your joy in us and bless us with the confidence to proclaim Jesus as our dearest friend, teacher and Saviour. We ask this in his name. Amen.

References: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995

Copyright acknowledgement Some material included in this service is copyright: ©  The Archbishops’ Council 2000-2020 and from the book of Common Prayer

The prayer is from and is copyright © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Reproduced with permission.