Lockdown 3.0

Updated: Jan 8

Isn't it such a wearying time at present? Lockdown 3.17 it feels quite something; the heaviness of hearing of this news on Monday night from our Prime Minister. Can I invite you to hold on in fresh hope, to pursue afresh the hope of our salvation even in these most challenging times?

So here we are in that place again, possibly better prepared but also possibly more weary, anxious and saddened by all that it all is. We recognise the varied ache, pain and many disappointments that all of us experience in this unforgettable start to 2021. Please know that Julie and I are praying for you and want to support and help in whatever way is possible, so do please contact at vicarjohnny@gmail.com or julie@stph.org.uk and we’d love to serve you and yours best we can.

Last week when we gathered there was a powerful sense of the confidence that looking to God as people of abnormal hope. Julie's written of her reflections into this theme of hope. The presence of the risen Christ with us grants us boldness that enables us to ‘be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.’ This vision of Christ is alive and we have, by the grace of God, found innovative ways to reach out to the communities we are called to serve.

The virus and it's wider pandemic has brought with it associated stresses; much beyond novelty, uncertainty and uncontrollability. None of us has ever faced such a time before. We are constantly faced by the news, whether medical, epidemiological, economic, political – which makes us uncertain. Yet we hope. The forecasts of the future are proving wrong and we face unpredictability. Long periods of such stress are very demanding on our health, physical and mental, and on our emotions. We ask you to be aware of these pressures and to take care of yourselves and each other. Nothing is new to God, nothing is uncertain, nothing is unpredictable. Therefore we hope. Let us be all the resolute in daily prayer, our reflection on scripture, our periods of silence and resting in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

With an increase in ‘R’ rate being significant in the areas present and surrounding us all, we feel attending to this is the right thing to do to protect all of us. Just because we could open as the church doesn’t mean we should! However creative and thoughtful our in-person congregations within the limitations: all of this significantly impoverished. But for us, we've chosen not to. We haven't re-opened for gathered church since mid-December in this corner of Kent, as it's unhelpful & unwise in this time. Lots else is offered online, by DVD production & print options with our biggest reach last Sunday since Easter past.

Sadly, with the continued Tier 5 restrictions, we took a PCC minuted action back to the Bishop as is offered to all parishes in the light of Canon law. We affirmed unanimously as a PCC not to meet in gathered church on Sundays until a review on 1st February. We'll continue to reflect on this in our next PCC meeting on 18th January. Whilst the church buildings are closed, we remain active in our local community serving and supporting many. Let’s take heart from that truth and lean into the strength and wisdom of our Heavenly Father in these days. Our church buildings may be closed once again but God is still at work in our world and we, His people, are here to be the hands, feet and aroma of Christ in this parish. Let’s strengthen and encourage each other in Life Groups, (contact me if you are not already in one) our Wednesday morning prayer time at 0830am via Zoom and our re-instated online zoom fellowship at 1030 following 0930 online church.

As we look ahead over these next weeks and months as a church, we want to continue to be a people of blessing; the Community Compassion Fund exists to assist those in the parish community who are in need so please do make any referrals via phone or email to myself or via the Church Office. I am continuing to work closely with HPC, SDC and KCC to facilitate services and supplies as previously – so that no-one needs go hungry or feel forgotten and uncared for: with a wave of new requests and needs before us. As a community, we can ensure that no one, children, adults and the elderly, goes hungry!

Whatever you are facing or feeling, do not face it alone: there are many willing, loving & caring people across our church family and wider community who are able and wanting to help. Do just ask and we’ll try to help… However limiting the days ahead, my prayer is that your vision of God is ever large, for the kingdom of God truly has not been dented, despite all the challenges, pain and loss of these days. So we wait in confident hope.

With our prayerful thanks for you


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