On Tuesday 23 August, we celebrated the Mothers’ Union 140th Anniversary with a splendid service here at St Mary’s. Some 170 members from all over Bath and Wells attended the service which began with a picnic in the church grounds and a procession through the town. Thank you to all who helped and all who joined us to make such a memorable occasion. Particular thanks to Margaret Hendy MU Diocesan President and the Trustees, Ann Hall, local Deanery Leader and Rowena Merson, Taunton Archdeaconry leader; to our flower ladies, our organist Miles, Ruth the violinist, our sacristan team, Tim our caretaker, our Rev Rod Corke, Rev Judith Abbott MU Chaplain and finally to those who stayed on after the celebration to help clear up.
“I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (v.13) RSV
Last week we learnt of the positivity of adopting a spirit of rejoicing. This week we learn the need to adopt a positive spirit as to what we can do by God’s strength. This is not the same as the power of positive thinking. This is not boosting our trust in our own ability. But it is strengthening our trust in God’s ability through us: a very different thing.
As Paul says, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (v.13). We note that he is not saying that he can do all things. He can only do those things that the Lord is strengthening him to do. It doesn’t mean therefore that he can win any race and pass any exam. It does mean, however, that whatever he should be doing, the Lord will be with him in doing it. Even this is not guaranteeing success; for instance, he may be a Spirit-filled and powerful evangelist but still no one may respond.
What it does for Paul, and what it can do for us, it to liberate us to be confident and proactive in any situation. It will stop us being limited by our natural ability (or lack of ability) and will inspire us to press forward and have a go. How many of us are limited by self-imposed limitations?
Paul has come to this the hard way. Mind you, even before his conversion he did not seem to lack confidence and self- assurance. However, he had to learn to fail and he had to learn how to rejoice in prison. He had to learn how to live on very little. It was a hard lesson, but now that he is writing to the Philippians he can finally assert, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”
The Lord wants our minds renewed to understand this. He wants us to believe that his Spirit within us can give us the strength to abound in any and every situation in which we find ourselves. He doesn’t guarantee us success or prosperity, but he does guarantee us his presence.
Lord, thank you that I can do all things in Christ. Create in me a calm faith and confidence in you. Amen.
The ancient mulberry tree is bearing a fine crop in the vicarage garden and you are invited to come and pick.
There is no need to ask permission. The mulberry picking times for this week are:-
Monday from 11.00am
Tuesday between 9am and 1pm
Wednesday between 11am and 2pm
Just come through the white gate armed with a picking basket and old clothes as mulberries do stain terribly. If you have never tasted a mulberry then you are in for a treat. They have a unique flavour somewhere between a blackberry and a raspberry. They are considered to be the queen of soft fruit. Picking is easy – no prickles and the taste is amazing. Try to pick the black ripe ones. This may be the last opportunity to enjoy mulberries at the vicarage so do come.
Have you ever thought if you would like to learn more about your faith? Have you considered what being a Christian really means? This October, there is an opportunity to take part in the seven week Christianity Explored Course that our Vicar, Rod Corke, will be leading. Church members who have taken part before have enjoyed the experience which is informal (although you will not be put in any embarrassing situation). The sign up sheet and table promoting Christianity Explored will appear soon.
TRIP TO MICHAEL FARLEY’S ORGAN WORKSHOP in Colaton Raleigh (near Sidmouth) Wednesday 24th August
This firm is one of the possible Organ Builders we are looking at with a view to renovating Father Willis. Michael Farley has kindly offered us a tour of his workshop (where he is currently building an organ for Malta!) and some of the nearby instruments he has recently renovated. This would be a day out in some beautiful places – we would visit the churches and organs of (tbc) Budleigh Salterton, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth, and enjoy a pub lunch. Lifts could be provided if needed If anyone would like to join us for this visit please sign the sheet at the back of the church (for further details please see Miles Quick).
On Tuesday 23 August, we will be hosting the Diocesan Mother’s Union Service of Celebration. The Revd Judith Abbot will preside and folk will come from all over the county to praise God together. It is open to all, and there will be activities for young children. The afternoon begins at 1.00pm with a picnic in the church grounds followed by the service at 2.30pm.