We are in uncertain times and the news is changing every day. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have sent a letter to all clergy saying that services (except funerals and weddings) are to be suspended until further notice. The Archbishop wrote
‘Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead,’
‘Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.
‘We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
‘Please do carry on supporting the local food bank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open.
‘There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those.
‘Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the gospel – a hope that can counter fear and isolation – will spread across our land.’
It seems strange to be sending out the April magazine that would normally be brimming with services and events for Holy Week and preparations for the Easter celebrations, saying that currently everything has been suspended until further notice! We are almost collectively, ‘holding our breath,’ wondering what lies ahead over the next few weeks for each and everyone of us and our loved ones. One thing we do know though is that as Christians the Easter period reminds us of the heart of what we believe. That Jesus Christ died on a cross, but that He rose again and sickness and death is ultimately conquered and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
We must be careful not to become over anxious and fearful. This is where the Christian message brings hope and light into the darkness around us. Let’s trust, hope and pray that we can come through this stronger, stronger as individuals but more importantly stronger as communities, as we have an opportunity to pull together as people of faith and people of no faith, united in facing this unknown threat/challenge together. Already as we have seen on facebook (and other social media sites) and as I have experienced talking to people – people care, people want to help. I really do believe that good will come from this, let’s embrace this opportunity to bury our differences and work together across our communities, keeping our eyes and ears open for the lonely, isolated, weak and vulnerable.
Churches across the parish, that are normally open, will still be open during day light hours and you are very welcome to come and pray, or sit in the quiet to reflect and draw breath. Please do however respect and keep the required distance from other people if other people should happen to be there at the same time as you.
I will continue to keep my rhythm of prayer across the parish as publicised and you are welcome to be there then, though once again maintaining the required distance. The important thing is to know that you are all being held in my thoughts and prayers as we face this together. We must trust that God is indeed near, not be anxious and seek to know God’s peace that passes all our understanding in our hearts at this timed for the days ahead.
‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)’
We pray for all those who are suffering because of the coronavirus,
may they know your healing power.
When we are afraid for ourselves and our loved ones,
give us your strength and courage.
When we feel alone and isolated,
reassure us with a sense of your presence.
Give wisdom to those in authority
and may our community work together for the good of all.
We give thanks for those who care for others
and ask you to bless them in all they do.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, healer and physician. Amen
Caroline has prepared a short Youtube message about the current situation
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