Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Being clear has never felt so important... so we'll continue on: love all, serve all, and seek to be as clear about what we can offer for the weeks and months ahead: building on our comms last weekend, and then midweek. So here's some of what I shared with our church family in an email message: How many times have we heard the words ‘unchartered and unparalleled’, in the last few days!? Truly remarkable times, and how vital that faith, hope and love are alive and growing in you and me… Some updates as is our need and tradition! Pastoral ministry at present is not like it’s ever been before: a mix of much community presence, care and communication at present, with God bringing more and more opportunities to us in God’s name.
Here's how we seeking to serve and support...
There’ll be a fulsome weekly email with resources, to encourage, resource & inspire.
There's a daily 12noon facebook live streamed video message from me bringing a short encouragement from Ephesians. Look that out on my personal facebook page: ‘Like’ this and it’ll be there on your feed!
On Sundays, each week in a different location, we will facebook live stream a talk, other input and creativity to bless and nourish you, this will be available on our church facebook page here: ‘Like’ this and it’ll be there on your feed!
Audio recordings are available as ever on our soundcloud here.
The Church of England has released its prayer app now for free, with easy use on your smart-phone here.
Might you record a one sentence video message and send it to me by WhatsApp, for use in the wider Church of England #EverydayFaith project. "I am thankful for... " It links with our ongoing thankfulness jars story…
This Sunday, 22nd March has been called by the National Church of England as a Day of Prayer; might you join Julie and I in lighting a candle in your home and, together with your household, spend fifteen moments in silent or spoken prayer for the many matters raised by this unique moment in our global history. #CandleOfHope #Coronavirus #COVID19 Might you take a photo of your lit space, home or corner, post and share it with a message about why you have hope…?
If you’d like to join in with some of the Life groups in our church family that are meeting by electronic means, by Zoom and or other means, do message my by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will seek to set this up.
Whilst Sue nor others are based from the church buildings, she can be contacted by email email@example.com do let her know if you have no access to some of the web-based electronic resources above and we will seek to keep connected in other ways. Do ask if in doubt.
Its been a privilege to be invited to join up in practical doorstep drops for those who are elderly, struggling, vulnerable or needing to self-isolate: this alongside our Community Compassion Fund are ways we are practically assisting people in our parish. I’m taking this on with other volunteers and helpers as one of the Sevenoaks District Council, Care in our community: COVID-19 Area Team Captains.
My former Bishop Pete Broadbent helpfully shared this, "Someone asked me what they could pray for me. Thinking about it, I said "Thank you - I think the prayers are the same for all of us. That the Church and the message of Jesus Christ won't become more muted and dulled by the current isolation. That our people will find inventive and creative ways to keep worship, evangelism and pastoral care going. That we shall re-find our proper priorities as disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of all this. My role (and yours!) is to keep the main thing the main thing!"
The notice outside our two physical church buildings says... "The building is closed, but we are still gladly serving many people! Despite the coronavirus, while the buildings may be closed, the church of Jesus has never been more open! Following government, healthcare and national church advice it is regrettable that public use of this space for group gatherings and Sunday gathered worship is suspended until further notice. During these current circumstances, we will seek to worship and share together electronically and online. There’s a daily devotional at 12noon and weekly on Sunday at 1030 where we will share content together to nourish and serve all! If you wish to connect in this way, email firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp 077990 72845 We will love to connect with you! Though we have been required to stop meeting together for a season, as churches all across our nation, our God and His loving purposes still endure! This time is unique, and this too will pass! Where we can serve you and yours… do just ask?” There's a reformation about the way we follow Christ, and 'do church' together as a result of this COVID-19 season.
This sung worship set by Phil Wickham has really blessed me, as well as Adam's curated playlist of courage & hope may encourage you, Andy Crouch's wisdom on love in this time, the brilliant Tim Keller in uncertain times, Krish Kandiah's writing is helpful as ever, and our friend Cheryl who lead for children & youth at the diocese offers these survival resources!
Communication has never felt more important, and with more than four times as much for me as your vicar. Connection in all sorts of ways feels so very important, through formal and informal ways. Compassion for and into our community, particularly amongst those who are elderly, vulnerable or needing to self-isolated, and yes with a view to continuity: longer term planning and preparation over the marathon weeks and months ahead.
I am so thankful that I am part of a church body during this turbulence. Throughout this week I have been prayed for and have prayed for others by phone, text or videocall. Please find a way to develop a regular structure of health in all ways. We'll try all sorts of things, experiment in new ways over the coming weeks and months: somethings will work, and some won't, but we're invited into this new reformation together, God's Holy Spirit helping us.
Your prayers and partnership have never felt so important...