Soul Food - 26th February

Dear friends,

A busy weekend with a trip to the Midlands to pick up a new little car better suited to my small needs here in East Devon. So, if you see a little silver Hyundai in the vicar’s parking spot in future I can assure you it is in fact me!

I had to endure a superb four-course meal at Lympstone manor with a favourite wine followed by a cheeky little Sauternes with dessert on Sunday to celebrate my birthday – now back to the diet! It was lovely having “Happy birthday” sung by both congregations in the morning at All Saints and St, Michael’s. The theme of my sermon was frugality and abstinence – no, I jest – the transfiguration of course. Peter calls this supernatural event a “lamp shining in the darkness” to assure Christians perhaps struggling in this world that no matter how we are feeling now about ourselves or events in the world, in the end all will be well. If you’d like to read what I said just click here;

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the R.M.C. has a joint Ash Wednesday service tonight (with optional imposition of ashes) at All Saints church East Budleigh at 6pm. to launch the season of Lent. We will have just two readings;

2 Corinthians 5: 20 – 6:10 and the gospel reading Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21

Sunday 1st March – 1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 2: 15-17; 3:1-7. A complex tale with many possible interpretations. On the face of it, God was wrong. Adam and Eve did not die, just as the serpent said they wouldn’t when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, the gaining of this unique human awareness, and the ability to make moral judgements led to all sorts of evil being unleashed in the world that ultimately led God to flood the world and start again. It seems that the cost of our god-like abilities led to separation from God, friction, shame, injustice and oppression – a kind of spiritual death.

Romans 5: 12-19. Paul’s explanation of the atonement of all things through Jesus Christ directly compares and contrasts Adam’s sin that led to separation from God in the Genesis story of the fall in Genesis 2. Through Adam, sin and  death  (physical and spiritual) of all people entered the world but through the sacrifice of Christ comes justification and life for all people.

Matthew 4: 1-11. It is salutary to note that it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The sifting and refining and contemplation of our role and motivation and mission in this world was what Jesus was discerning in the wilderness and is the first thing that happened immediately after he was chosen and commissioned by God at his Baptism.

Dinner club – 2020

Our first dinner club of the year is tomorrow night at East Devon Golf club on Thursday 27th February. The speaker for this first one of the season, our area dean, Fr. Robert Sellers, a very lively and amusing man who I’m sure will keep us well entertained with anecdotes from his life. The cost is £20.00 per person and because a new seating configuration is operational at the Golf club it means that numbers will need to be restricted to 90 people, so book early with Fran to avoid disappointment.

Music at St. Peter’s on Friday lunchtimes.

The Friday concerts start at 1.30pm with optional lunch at 1pm. (£5 or £8 respectively). The one last Friday featuring Andrew Millington, on Valentine’s day was packed! There was even a danger of running out of food at the preceding lunch. The next concert features our very own director of Music, Stephen Tanner.

6th March: Stephen Tanner on organ

13th March: Stephen Tanner and Andrew Downton – organ and piano duets.

Table talks

After the success of our little series of talks on Dementia, mental health and death last year we are holding another short series of three talks starting soon.

The programme is developing, and the dates and titles are currently as follows although the first and last one may be switched;

26th March – Marriage in the 21st century featuring Rev. Mike Williams (late of this parish) three days before his 40th wedding anniversary!

22nd April – Prisons and rehabilitation

20th May – –(To be confirmed) Alone but not lonely. Coping with living on ones own whether by choice or circumstance.

Lent talks and Joint Lent lunch.

There will be four Lent talks this year and one large joint Lent lunch. The talks are still to be allotted but will come from the Lent course called “Invitations from the cross” by Krish Kandiah. As in previous years there will be two talks on each day. 10.30 at Temple Methodist church and at 7.30pm in St. Peter’s. The details are as follows;

Wednesday 4th March – Rev. Julia Henley (Baptist) – Forgiveness

Wednesday 11th March – Rev. Martin Jacques (Anglican) – Hope

Thursday 19th March – Joint Lent lunch in the Peter hall.

Wednesday 25th March – Rev. Wayne Grewcock. (Methodist) – service

Wednesday 1st April – Rev. James Henley (Baptist) – Trust

Thought for the day

The Bible is central to our faith and worship but how it is interpreted is a massive question. The story of the “fall” in Sunday’s worship is a case in point. Bill Maher, a very funny American commentator is famously an atheist and says that you have to be nuts to believe in a talking snake! That of course takes as read a view that the Bible must be taken absolutely literally. Some parts of the Bible may be taken literally such as Jesus taught in parables (for example) but of course the story content of the parables themselves are not and were never meant to be understood as literal truth. No one knows or cares if there were literally two sons, one good and one prodigal. The truth lies in the meaning. Something doesn’t need to be literally true to convey truth. The same is true of the creation myths generally and the story of the fall. One can discern truths from the stories without believing that they must be literally true. Another problem lies in holding the Bible to be the sole determinant of religious faith and practice like some extreme protestants do. I take refuge in the fact that the New Testament as we know it was established by the church four centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. The essential truth here is that the Bible is a product of the church, not the other way around. It is instructive to remember that the only Bible Jesus could have known is what we now call the Old Testament. St. Paul from within the writings of the New Testament itself talks about the supremacy of the life-giving Spirit of a text over a dull literalist interpretation beautifully in 2 Corinthians 3:6 “For the letter kills, it is the Spirit that gives life”

The prayer for today is inspired by Philippians 3: 14-15

Lord, help me keep my eyes on you. As I work to reach my goals, I thank you for serving as my inspiration and for helping me to move in the right direction. I can go nowhere but up by keeping you at the centre of each endeavour and I know you are there, even when I can’t see you, working behind the scenes to ensure that even when I fall, you are there to help me back on my feet. Thank you, Father, for all you do in my life. Amen. 

Love and peace,


St Peter's C of E Primary School

Moor Lane, Budleigh Salterton, Devon EX9 6QF

01395 443167

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