St. Stephen's Church,


 Rector's E-Letter-29th November 2023



Dear all


If it wasn't for the cold air and the shop displays, it seems scarcely believable that Christmas is just around the corner again.  And as much as the die hard traditionalists amongst us might want to delay the inevitable, it is coming to you too now!  We had Stir-up Sunday last weekend, and those of you with us at Thorncombe may have had a go at stirring our Christmas cake mixture!  It is now cooked and in storage and we will share it with you all at Epiphany!  As I type another cake is cooling (our personal one), and the house smells wonderfully of fruit, spice and brandy...  


This Sunday is Advent Sunday, and the start of the official 'count down' to Christmas.  And so also starts what I sometimes refer to as the freight train of services and events shoehorned into December.  We can feel overwhelmed by it all or simply under pressure to meet self-imposed expectations of the festive season; thinking about presents, decorations, food; a seemingly endless to do list which can make Advent feel like a month of practical preparation to arrive at a day of our own imagination and invention.  


We need to be careful that in the midst of it all we don't lose sight of the real present - not a re-visited past but a re-discovered presence leading to a newly understood future.  


Advent is about preparation, yes.  But it is also about waiting.  It is about the discipline of waiting patiently and spiritually for something both expected and unexpected.  It is paradoxically about waiting for something that has already happened - and therefore about receiving that joy in a renewed way.  Above all it is about creating the space for that new presence to take root.  Ironically the very space that we can so hurriedly fill in with our panicked preparations.  It is not about us - it is about God.  


A came across this poem in the introduction to an Advent theology book recently which beautifully illustrates the wonder of the waiting.  During Advent this year, when it all feels a bit much, take a 'time out' breathing the air as a 'staircase for silence':



Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God  
To speak; the air a staircase  
For silence; the sunís light  
Ringing me, as though I acted  
A great role. And the audiences  
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,  
Though it be you who speak  
Through me, something is lost.  
The meaning is in the waiting.  R S Thomas (from The Meaning is in the Waiting; Paula Gooder)


Services and Events for Advent & Christmas 2023


Please see the information on this link for all the Advent and Christmas services and events happening across the Benefice this year.  


Advent & Christmas in the Two Shires Benefice - News - Two Shires Benefice - A Church Near You


Our regular parish worship also continues as usual, and is as set out below for the next two weeks



SERVICES COMING UP this week and next


Advent Sunday - 3rd December


8am - Holy Communion (BCP); Forde Abbey

10am - Holy Communion; St Stephen's, Winsham

10:30am - Emmaus; St John's, Tatworth.  Cafe gathering from 1030, worship from 11am.  

4:30pm - Outdoor Carols and Christmas Lights switch-on; St John's, Tatworth


Sunday 10th December (Advent 2)


8am - Holy Communion (BCP); St Stephen's, Winsham

10am - Morning Worship; St Mary's, Thorncombe

10.30am - Holy Communion; St Michael & All Angels, Chaffcombe


Tuesday 12th December

6.30pm - Carol Service; St Mary's, Thorncombe


Wednesday 13th December

11am - Holy Communion; St John's, Tatworth




4pm on 3rd December - St Stephen's, Winsham.  September Singers are presenting an Advent Concert in the church.  This is a local choir led by our very own Pamela Everitt (Chaffcombe).  All Welcome!


1:45pm (or thereabouts) on Monday 4th December - St John's, Tatworth.  Alison Hawes (Chaffcombe) is leading her choir in St John's Church for those who are attending the Parish Council Christmas lunch earlier.  All welcome to the church to hear the choir sing, which should be starting at about 1:45pm.  




There is a Christmas Coffee Morning in St John's on Saturday 9th December - 10am to 12pm; all welcome.




Wild Church meets at St John's on Saturday 2nd December at 3pm.  This is our Christmas special and we will be decorating the Wild Church Christmas Tree!  We will be inside for this session - so we will be nice and warm and dry!


ADVENT COURSE - 2pm on 7th, 14th and 21st of December.


I am running a short Advent Course here in the vicarage on Thursdays in Advent at 2pm.  The theme is 'The meaning is in the waiting'.  Each session is bible focused and will last about an hour.  






Please hold in your prayers all you know who are struggling in any way, in body, mind or spirit.  We are asked to pray by name for:

Dave Boyland; Terri Boyland; Wendy Cotton; Mary Marsh; Tony Taylor; Margaret Bandy; Di Nicholls; Hester Down; Stella Hutchison; Andrew de Pury; Cyril Larcombe; Lynn Ranson; Keith Legge; Ron Bone


A Collect for Advent Sunday:


O Lord our God,
make us watchful and keep us faithful
as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
that, when he shall appear,
he may not find us sleeping in sin
but active in his service
and joyful in his praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.






The Reverend Philip Butcher

Rector - Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)

The Vicarage

3 Home Farm



TA20 2SH

01460 221286


PASTORAL EMAILS - please to:




Rest Days - Mondays (Tuesdays where following a bank holiday)

For non-urgent enquiries please allow up to a week for responses.

Mornings are best times for phone contact!



























Ministry Team


Rector:                                 Rev. Philip Butcher,  The Rectory,  3 Home Farm,  Tatworth  TA20 4SH  Tel: 01460 221286

                                           e-mail:   Day off:  Monday


Associate Rector:                 Rev. Michelle Butcher-as above.

Asst. priest:                             Rev. Judith Abbot,  ĎBraytoní,  Wreath Green,  Tatworth  TA20 2SN  Tel:  01460 220689                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Readers:                                             Mrs   Mary Dewar,  11 Watermead,  Tatworth  TA20 2QN  Tel: 01460 221268                            



The history of St Stephen's Church-dating from the 13th Century-Click HERE

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