How are you?
This is no longer simply a question of being polite; I find when people ask me that by phone or over the internet now, they really mean it. And I mean it too.
For some of us, our worst fears have been realised and someone we love dearly is no longer with us because of Covid-19. Others in our community are struggling with the virus. Still others are isolated and afraid. How are you?
In the midst of the gloom a few bright lights shine. One of these has been the creation of www.oxshottdelivery.com, led by James Davis and other retailers in Oxshott High Street and helped by volunteer drivers and helpers. Thank you, if you are one of those!
Here is another opportunity to pull together and help one another: I was asked for help a couple of days ago by the local Social Prescriber working for Surrey Downs CCG. I assured her that there are plenty of people in Oxshott ready and willing to collect and deliver prescriptions for people who need them. She will pass on requests via the church office. If you are willing to help in this way, please ring 01372 842071 or email to give your name and contact details. Please also note that this is the number to ring if you have something you need help with or just want a friendly chat. (Just to be clear: both the church building and the office have had to close but the office staff and I are still working and are available on this number and via this email address.)
Palm Sunday (April 5)
Please do continue to look on our website, which is our main point of contact at the moment. There you will find all the weekly Listen & Pray recordings, plus invitations to Zoom prayer-meetings. In addition, this coming Sunday (Palm Sunday) there will be a special recording available.
Our Youth and Children’s Worker, Josey, will record a special Families and Children’s worship time which will be available via the website. We suggest you try to gather to listen to this at 11am so that we have a sense of being together for it. Do watch if you can and remember, you can do so even in your p-j’s! Some of the videos she is hoping to show will be available on the website later on Sunday. The time of worship will close with me praying for Josey as she leaves us for her new role within the church and community of St Andrew’s, Farnham.
Please note: we will invite Josey back for a proper ‘goodbye’ celebration later in the year and this is when she will be given her leaving gift from us all. If you have not yet done so and would like to contribute to Josey’s leaving gift, please contact the office for the BACS details. Alternatively, you can wait until the church is open once more and able to receive cheques or cash.
An idea for Palm Sunday seen on the internet today is for us all to place green branches of some kind on our front doors or in a window so that others realise that this is a special time of year for us. Have a go and then you can spread the good news that it’s Easter to those who pass by on their daily exercise!
Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (previously scheduled for the early evening of Palm Sunday), has obviously had to be postponed. We have been advised by the Diocese of Guildford that we must now hold our annual meeting by October 31 so, as soon as we are able, we will re-schedule this important meeting and proper notice will be given. In the meantime, all office holders (Churchwardens, Treasurer, sub-committee chairs and PCC members) will continue in post. Official guidelines permit us to hold virtual PCC meetings (via Zoom, for example) which we will do to maintain the ministry and mission of St Andrew’s, Oxshott during these extraordinary times.
Easter – ‘Father Forgive’
Our overarching theme for Easter this year is taken from one of the six sayings of Jesus from the cross, namely ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ – from Luke 23:34. And all our readings come from Mark’s version of events. On Easter Day everything changes to the joyful declaration that ‘Jesus is alive!’
Over the past few years Holy Week (which this year begins on Monday 6 April) has been marked by special 30-minute times of quiet reflection, readings and prayer. For 2020 these will be led and recorded by me before being posted on the website. Obviously, these recordings can be used at any time. However, it would be nice to think of many of us gathering as usual at 7pm each evening to participate. Each day’s recording will be accompanied by two things: suggestions and links to music which you may find helpful for reflection, and a leaflet for you to print, containing both practical instructions about what to prepare for each session (for example, on Maundy Thursday I will ask you to have a piece of bread or a roll and a glass of wine in front of you) as well as the outline and readings for each reflection. Please therefore prepare before you settle down to pray and reflect!
On Good Friday there will be two items on the website: a pdf of activities and suggestions for worship for families created by Josey and secondly, an hour of readings and reflections prepared and recorded by Jolyon. Many of us will use this for the hour from 2-3pm. Again, you may wish to use some of the links to music given on the website.
On Easter Day itself there will be a Listen & Pray recorded for the day and another pdf from Josey of family-related activities and suggestions.
On Sunday 19 April I am very grateful to Karen and Chris Banks who will be leading Listen & Pray.
This week I want to pass on these words from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, written when he was imprisoned by the Romans in around AD 64:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
However we feel, God is still on the throne and He loves us. He longs for us to turn to Him with our worries and to receive His peace.