Thursday 25th February
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Isaiah 58.6-7)
In the context of a society where fasting was something prescribed by religious leaders, as once it was in much of Christendom during Lent, the prophet cries out against superficial hypocrisy – God is not interested in public displays of humility, but in positive action to right wrongs.
Our Lent Course this year is on the Zoom platform. Revd Ylva has put together a series looking at some of the meditations of Julian of Norwich. Please join us at 7:30 on Tuesday evenings, starting on the 23rd February. Each meditative session is expected to last about 30-40 minutes.
Please join the meeting ready to start at 7:30pm.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches
Last updated: Tuesday 23rd February
This will be updated once the detail of the PM's announcement have been published by the Government, the CoE have issued their new Guidelines, and we have reviewed the guidance. We will do this as soon as we can. The future is much more hopeful though; we will be back worshipping together, we will be able to conduct weddings - we just don't have the detail of under what limitations just yet.
Regarding Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals: please see the Coronavirus page of the website.
Our churches remain open for individual private prayer; but communal worship will move on-line.
The Prime Minister made an announcement on the 4th January regarding England going into lockdown until at least mid-February but, surprisingly, places of worship being able to stay open for public worship as well as individual private prayer.
I have been in discussion with the Churchwardens of both parishes about this, and we - regrettably - have significant reservations about remaining open for public worship with the new, virulent strain of the Covid virus; these are as follows:
- The majority of our congregations are in a vulnerable category either through age or because of other underlying health conditions
- We are close to receiving the vaccine (probably over the course of the next 2-3 months)
- We have a duty of care for our congregations, for those "on duty" at services, for our parishioners, for our families and for ourselves
- The Ministry Leadership Team have reservations, for personal reasons, about their availability to lead/preach at live services; we therefore have a much depleted team to call upon
- We feel it is more sensible to reduce the risks for everyone by having on-line services rather than live public worship.
These reservations have been put to the two Standing Committees who have agreed, with heavy hearts, that with immediate effect we suspend public worship in the three churches in the benefice until the lockdown it ended. (We will review this mid-February; with the possibility of commencing public worship again from the end of February.) Bishop Rose and Archdeacon Andrew have been informed of this decision.
- We will record a service and make it available, on-line, every Sunday morning (and reintroduce the time of fellowship, with coffee, on Zoom after the service)
- The parish churches remain open for individual private prayer seven days a week
- St. George's church will be heated for two one-hour periods every day (10-11am and 2-3pm) so that the church is more comfortable if people wish to make use of the space for private prayer. Revd Ylva and I will diary some of our time to be at St. George's Church and at the Mission Church if you wish to meet and talk
As this situation is going on far longer than any of us had imaged:
- We will look at arranging a form of on-line, weekly Bible Study; a sort of “on-line Home Group”. This will be available, on Zoom, to anyone who wishes to join in for Christian fellowship in this way. Watch this space!
- We will also review and update the on-line resources that are available on the church websites.
I know this will be of considerable disappointment to some. We are not taking this action lightly. Please remember that there will also be others who hold passionately to the view, “It’s about time services in church stopped!” The virus is serious; the country is in lockdown to try and break the spread of the virus. We need, as the local church, to be part of helping with that break so that – along with the vaccine – we can all get back to a more normal life sooner rather than later.
Please continue to look after yourself. If you want to talk, please pick up the phone and call.
If you come into church for private prayer please remember: "Hands. Face. Space......and no "mingling"!
Please hand sanitise on entry and exit. Wear a face covering. And maintain 2m social distancing from others not in your household or social bubble at all times....even after the service as you leave....."No mingling!"
And, please, you MUST NOT come to church if you have Covid-19 symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate.
We follow the guidelines issued by the Church of England. If you wish to read these in full, they are available here.
There are prayer resources available as you come into church. (Please take them away with you when you leave if you use them.) If you wish to read some scripture when you come to church for private prayer, please bring your Bible with you.
Keep safe. Keep well. Keep praying. And God bless you.
RESOURCES for prayer, bible reading and reflection
Direction Finder : TN17 4DL
“Services” and Prayer:
Please make use of the beautiful quiet space in St. George's Church any day for individual private prayer; prayer resources are available. If there is something particular you would like prayer for, please send me an email or give me a call.
Services in February:No communal public worship services live in church during the lockdown.Services will be available on-line, from 8 o'clock Sunday morning.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength . . . Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Now is still a time to care for your neighbour. Please, pick up the phone, speak to them. We are a strong community, a caring community. Together we are getting through this.
Finally, I encourage you to use these prayers when you get up and when you go to bed:
A prayer in the morning:
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples, ‘I am with you always’. Be with me today, as I offer myself to you. Hear my prayers for others and for myself, and keep me in your care. Amen.
A prayer in the evening:
God our Father, by whose mercy the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light,:we place in your hands our unfinished tasks, our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes, knowing that only what you bless will prosper. To your love and protection we commit each other and all those we love, knowing that you alone are our sure defender, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Keep safe. Keep well. Keep praying. God bless you. With love, David