From Vicar Margaret
On Friday we all heard the news from the Government of a second lockdown due to increasing cases of Corvid 19 and resulting deaths. And it is with great sadness, apprehension, and much anxiety that our nation faces this second wave of this deadly virus. As we face the future together as a nation and as a church, I want to encourage and remind the family at St Marys of the progress we have made together in the past few months and to reassure you that the team at St Marys will continue to do our very best through this second wave.
In March we entered the first national lock down and following all the Government and Church of England guidelines St Marys church was closed on the 22nd of March.
On May 22nd we began our Sunday morning services by Zoom at 10.30am each week, which continued until the 27th of September when services were resumed in church. At this point we moved our Zoom service to Wednesday nights at 7.30pm, for those who felt unable for whatever reason to attend church in person on Sundays. Both zoom and live services have run each week and have been well received and attendance consistently good. In addition to these services we have been able to keep in contact with a lot of those physically unable to join in. We have done this by post, by email and telephone conversations. From early September we have also had the church open on Wednesday afternoons 2-4pm for private prayer.
We have had encouraging and positive feedback about all of this, and other pastoral help offered. And I want to thank all those who have helped to run our services safely, provided technical, pastoral, and administrative support and good old roll your sleeves up hard work, in order to keep St Marys connected as a church family and community.
And now we are facing another lockdown, live church services are prohibited again, and the details are still not clear. There are many discussions still to be had about what the impact of the new lockdown will mean. In some ways this lock down will be harder than the first. We are all anxious, for ourselves, for loved ones, for those who are vulnerable and elderly, for our families, for our schools, for our nation and for our church. We know that this pandemic is having a devastating effect on our economy and on people’s mental health. Thousands of people are dying, the National Health Service is being stretched to the limit and the poorest communities in our nation are suffering the most. It is clear, that, we are in for a long haul. It is going to be a hard winter.
As in many places, at St Marys’ there is a lot we have all learned from the first lockdown. The safety systems we put in place are working, lots of us have learned some new skills, and we are all full of a new respect and gratitude for the courage and commitment of all key workers up and down the country. And we realise that we all have a part to play in helping our country and our church, come through this crisis.
As Christians we have a unique part to play. We have a vocation to pray and to serve in whatever way we can. We are bearers of the light of hope because no matter how difficult things may become, and no matter what others may think or believe, we know and trust that we are all in the faithful hands of the risen Christ, who knows our weaknesses, tiredness, struggles and fears. The Jesus whose steadfast love endures for ever, Jesus the light in the dark and the anchor in the storm.
On Monday this week, our Archbishops issued a call for all the Church of Jesus to pray and to serve. As this new lockdown begins on the 5th of November, our church leaders are all calling us to make this month of lockdown, a month of prayer. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown, we are invited by the Archbishops to fast and pray for our nation every Thursday. Fast if you can (in a way that is appropriate for you), and pray. Pray for our nation, pray for our nations’ leaders, pray for its health and other essential services, and for all those who suffer. As Christians In these difficult times we are reminded of the words of St Paul who says to those who follow Christ, that their, “love must be genuine, that they should hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.” He asks them to “serve the lord”, exhorting them to “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, to contribute to the needs of the saints and extend hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12.9-12). None of this is ever easy, but it is our calling.
From this Sunday, services will be on Zoom every week at 10.30am but we remain open for private prayer on Wednesday afternoons but with a new time of 2.00 to 3.00 pm. Information is regularly updated on our website and face book page, and there is a church what’s app (see pew sheet information). If you have any questions, concerns or you are in difficulty then please do contact the wardens or me. And please be assured of our thoughts and prayers. Remember too that I am always on the end of the phone for those who need a chat and a prayer so please, don’t hesitate to make contact. Above all pray and stay close to Jesus and may the peace of Christ remain with you all, as you serve and pray for all those we are called to love.
PS prayer and fasting starts Thursday 5th November, some resources to help you with this will be sent out shortly. But if they are a bit late arriving light your candle and pray.