Dear Church family,
Anxiety & fear are real. But life and love in Jesus is infinitely more powerful!
I wanted to message you with some parameters about what the Coronavirus means for us as a local parish church. Before all else, it means we should pray for our nation and world, encourage one another in our confidence in the Lord, rejoice in the certain hope we have of a world free from all disease and suffering, and seek to wisely make the most of any opportunity to share our confidence and hope with others. We want hope and peace to prevail in these times, amidst a number of local cases of those needing to self-isolate as COVID-19 increases.
Some will be worrying - whether because of having underlying health issues, or just plain anxiety, this is a vital time to care for those in and outside the church who are anxious. My goal is that we serve and care for others in our community, more than any normal patterns of gathered church or smart technology solutions. Increasingly we are assisting others in the requests for essential provisions being delivered to doorsteps as people feel more vulnerable, fearful, and-or are needing to self isolate. Whatever your personal view on the seriousness of the virus, love means we want to act for any who are concerned about meeting together for gathered worship. So, I would ask the following:
If you have a sustained cough or high temperature please contact 111, and take their advice for your wellbeing.
Please refrain from shaking hands, hugging and kissing when you see people. This means they are not put in the position of feeling they must reciprocate when they are unwilling to. Elbow bumps are becoming commonplace as a greeting!
Recognise that if you cough into your folded elbow as is increasingly the pattern, then our now well-repeated elbow bump pattern could be at risk! Let's be wise about our interactions...
In joining in public worship we'd encourage you to use the toilets for regular handwashing, and-or your personal use of the alcohol hand gel that you have with you...
Church of England policy and Convid19 updates are changing each day, and we will only be serving bread if at all, at communion from this weekend. We will mirror national health guidelines & Church of England guidelines as this unfolds in the weeks and months ahead. Updates will follow for coming weeks...
This wording will be shared in the one communion of bread only, with no communion cup;... 'Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and be thankful.' Opt-out altogether if you find this more appropriate, while still leaning in and savouring with the confidence the truth of God's sacrifice.
We will continue to meet in church life gatherings as meeting together is a vital gift to our shared life in Jesus. As social distancing continues to be advocated, we will revise plans as needs be, in the weeks to come.
Please pray for the medics and NHS staff particularly from our church family.
It seems that we’re now at that regrettable point where we’re having to balance panic with pragmatism: not to take the Corona outbreak so seriously that we oscillate between being immobilised and panic buying, but yet also to be practical as to real needs.
If you know those who are vulnerable and need practical, help do let myself or Sue at the Office know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Use the form below to serve those who are vulnerable. Imagine a #ViralKindness revolution even in these times! Please do encourage others to care and collect essentials, and ideally using supermarket home deliveries?
We are hoping to be able to live-stream our 1030 service for any who feel too concerned to come or who have to self-isolate. This will be noted in our church facebook page. But until we can, the sermons will be recorded as usual and can be accessed from our soundcloud page.
Again within national Church guidelines, we will not be serving drinks or snacks at the refreshments table, and so you may want to bring your own drink. In wider weekday ministry also we will not be serving drinks and hospitality for the foreseeable future.
Please keep an eye out for those struggling and vulnerable. Assist & serve others where you can…
In all things speak out peace, hope and joy that exceeds all passing circumstances! Wherever possible be a non-anxious presence for God with your family, neighbours, colleagues and friends. Throughout history, the church has been at her best when faced with difficulty and uncertainty. I know we will be the next in a long line of women and men who demonstrate their love for and trust in God by loving their neighbours in generous and sacrificial ways.
I'm sure you don't forget that in our morning Sunday congregations we're in the company of Paul in Philippians, and his perspective above and beyond his circumstances is truly remarkable. Let your prayers and praise and time in God's word exceed your time watching the news or the BBC news apps! Paul's worship changed his perspective! As Anne Lamott brilliantly puts it: “Look up! You can trap bees on floor of jars without lids because they don’t lookup. They just walk around and bump into glass. So lookup. We’re free!” Worship refocuses our whole selves on where it is we put our hope, and that changes everything.
A beautiful & enduring truth from Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
May we live and share peace well even in these strained times.