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Who is King? – Saul

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The Reading:  1 Samuel 15:2-3, 17-26 

“… he has also rejected you from being king” (v. 23) RSV

The Lord raises up and the Lord brings down.  As Paul says, “… there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).  God chose and anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel.  He was a promising choice; he was head and shoulders taller than other men (1 Samuel 9:2).  “The spirit of the Lord (came) mightily upon (him)” (1 Samuel 10:6), and he received “another heart”          (1 Samuel 10:9).

In other words, despite his bashful and insecure nature (e.g. hiding in the baggage – 1 Samuel 10:22) he was fully equipped by God to do the job.  The sad thing is that most of the time he fell back into his old nature and ruled from weakness and fearfulness.  This made him overbearing and erratic.  Eventually his self-serving rule was summed up by his mentor, Samuel, “… you have rejected the word of the Lord,” (v.23).

God may exalt a person, but if that person forsakes God’s reign in his or her life, then in due course God will reject them from their ministry.  And so it was in the case of Saul, “… he (God) has rejected you from being king” (v.23).  God’s rejection may come in many and various ways, but in Saul’s case he took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4).

While Saul was alive David remained as far as possible loyal.  Even when faced twice! (Samuel 24:3-4 and 26:8) with an apparently god-given opportunities to kill him, and yet he said: “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he i the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6).

David, who was to be Saul’s successor, was concerned that he also might be rejected from his kingship.  Sometimes he had good reason to think that!  But he prayed: “Take not your Holy Spirit from your servant” (Psalm 51:11).

In other words the anointing with oil to be king might be removed together with his kingship.  We must learn not to live by our old, weak human nature, but to live by the new heart God gives us, and by the power of his Holy Spirit.  Then we shall fulfil our ministry and please him.

Forgive me Lord when I act out of my sinful, weak and selfish human nature.  Renew a right spirit within me and strengthen me to live, and lead your way.  Amen. 

Explore More

1  What can change us from weakness to strength?

     Romans 8:12-15

2   If we fail what must we do?

     Psalm 51:1-4, 15-17

Open Deanery Synod

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On Monday evening our new Bishop, The Rt Revd Peter Hancock, is coming to Deanery Synod to give us his “first thoughts” about where the Diocese is heading and to hear what is happening in the Taunton Deanery.  This is an open meeting and anyone can come. It is at St Michael’s Galmington at 7.30pm. You would be most welcome.

Buckets for Ebola

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The PCC has agreed to donate £1,000 towards the Disasters Emergency Appeal in respect of the Ebola crisis.

There will also be collecting buckets in church at our service on Sunday so that we can increase this amount.

Upcoming Taunton Activities

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Here is a range of activities happening in the coming weeks around Taunton.

  • An evening with the new Bishop of Bath and Wells  You are invited to come and meet Bishop Peter Hancock.  He will be answering questions and telling us about his top three priorities as the new Bishop.  This is an open meeting and representatives from community groups, local industries and institutions are very welcome to attend.  Monday 24th November 7pm at St Michael’s Church, Galmington. 
  • The Angel Tree Service  Parents, family and friends are given an opportunity to pause to reflect on the loss of their baby, whether the loss was recent  or many years ago.  Lighting a candle for each baby enables people to unite with others who have experienced the same heartache.  Families feel less isolated and alone when sharing in the service.    Sunday 23rd November 3.00pm St Mary Magdalene Church in Taunton.
  • An Advent Quiet Day gives us a special opportunity, in the midst of the rush of our daily lives, to slow down and reflect on what the season means for us.  We will explore together Advent themes of waiting, expectation and anticipation.  Abbey House, Glastonbury.  Wednesday, 26th November 2014. 10.00-4.00.  (See What’s On for further details.)
  • Christmas Tree Festival will take place at Taunton United Reformed Church, Paul Street, on Friday 12th to Sunday 14th December. Entry is free. We organise this event principally to give a showcase to several groups and organisations which work tirelessly for the good of others and the enrichment of society; also to offer people a refuge from the busyness of Christmas shopping. We hope you will be dazzled by the trees and by what you learn about our tree sponsors.  (See What’s On for further details.)
  • The Business Carol Service – for all who work in Taunton.  Speakers: Rev Keith Powell and Fran James (HR Manager – Sainsburys) St James Church, Taunton.  Tuesday 16th December 6.15 – 7.15pm.  Followed by festive refreshments.  Organised by Taunton Team Chaplaincy – who serve the Community and Businesses of Taunton  as Town Centre and Workplace Chaplains.  Free Parking from 6.00pm in Coal Orchard and Canon St. Car Parks.  www.tauntonteamchaplaincy.org   Tel: 07581 424420

Rev. Steven Reed

Lead Chaplain

www.tauntonteamchaplaincy.org

Thank You Scott!

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The Choristers have said farewell to Scott Morrison. Scott took over the Choristers at a point of need and under his musical direction they have grown in confidence. Thank you Scott for all your hard work.

Food Bank

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“Thank you for all the food gifts at the Harvest Festival, we gave the produce to the Foodbank and Open Door. At the Foodbank we have collected over the Harvest period a total of 2.5 tons from different churches and supermarkets for which we are very grateful.”

Derek & Diane

Weekend Away at The Ammerdown Centre

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Do you remember all the positive comments printed in a copy of ‘Together’ after the Church Weekend Away at Glenfall House last year?    Well, there is another Weekend Away planned for Friday 19th June through to Sunday 21st June next year at The Ammerdown Centre, near Radstock.  So whether you came last year or have yet to experience all the delights of a St Mary’s weekend away,  now is your chance to pick up a leaflet from the back of the Church and use the sign-up form included to book your place.    We are really delighted that Sheila has managed to persuade The Venerable Nicola Sullivan, the Archdeacon of Wells to be our speaker for the weekend.

The Ammerdown Centre is near Radstock and is set in beautiful country side with access to an outdoor swimming pool!    There are plenty of single and double/twin rooms all with en-suite facilities, and should you be a non-driver there will be lots of folk who would be happy to give you a lift.

For more information please speak to Revd Sheila Murray, Diana Fletcher or Jean Lee 

Ammerdown Centre

Ammerdown Centre

Ammerdown Centre

Ammerdown Centre

Who is King? – Pharaoh

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 The Reading:  Exodus 14:1-9

 I will get glory over Pharaoh” (v. 4) RSV

Who was the king of kings?  Was it Pharaoh?  He was the mighty force at the time.  He had absolute power and was revered as a god. Slaves built him cities and pyramids.  He could have anyone executed instantly at his word.  He had a mighty army that could crush any other country that dared to threaten.

And yet was he ultimately in control?  Each time that Moses performed one of the signs (e.g. turning the waters of the Nile to blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, etc), it is recorded that Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15, 8:19, 9:7).  But in due course you may note it was the Lord God who “hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (Exodus 9:12, 9:34-35, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8).

Despots, dictators and autocratic kings may believe that they and their power, even their ‘divine right of kings’, gives them total control.  They forget that there is a God in heaven who is king over all.  Pharaoh could not resist the power of Moses with his words and his mighty signs.  Pharaoh may have thought that his heart and his will were his own, but he was wrong.

That is why it records that God said of Pharaoh: “… for this purpose have I let you live, to show you my power, so that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).

We need to be encouraged that though unjust and oppressive regimes may exist for a while, in due course God will bring them down.  Until he does, there seems little else the crushed people can do except to cry out to the Lord for vengeance and salvation.

Lord God, sovereign over all things and all rulers, bring down all oppressors and strengthen the oppressed.  Thank you where you have given good government.  Amen. 

 Explore More

1  How long had the Hebrews been in Egypt?

Exodus 12:40

2  What happened to Pharaoh’s army?

Exodus 14:17-18, 27-28