I wonder how the latest lockdown makes you feel? I know that some feel afraid, whilst for others frustration, anger, or even despair are the overwhelming emotions.
This letter has two purposes: first, to remind you that, however you are feeling today, you are not alone; I think all of us are finding this lockdown more difficult than previous ones. Also, there are members of the church family (and the local community) keen to come alongside you and to support you in whatever way is right for you. You may wish to offer support: from chatting regularly on the phone, to ordering someone’s regular shop online, there are many ways in which to reach out and share one another’s burdens, which will be so important in these grey January days. The pastoral assistants will continue their vital role, as will the Life Groups. If you ever need or want to offer support, please be in touch with the church office.
The second purpose of this letter is to let you know that your PCC has taken the decision that, with immediate effect, the church building needs to be closed to the congregation and members of the public. Rapidly rising rates of illness in the local area, apparently due to the greater transmissibility of the new coronavirus variant, is the main reason we have taken this step. We want to keep you and all of us as safe as we can, whilst still providing spiritual nourishment and support. To this end, services will continue to be available (a mixture of live stream and recordings) each week at 10am on Sunday, and on the website for viewing whenever suits you. Life Groups will also continue online or by phone. If you would like to be put in touch with a group, please contact Patrick Fleming via email. The PCC will look to re-open the church building for congregational worship as soon as it is safe to do so according to our risk-assessments and guided by both government and diocesan guidelines. In addition, Patrick (D) has created a Daily Prayer leaflet for us all to use at different times of the day, to keep our eyes upon our wonderful heavenly Father and to give us a sense of praying together every day.
Finally, these words from Psalm 92 came up in a Bible reading for yesterday:
‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night…
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.’ (vv1-4)
The commentator wrote the following about the ‘virtuous circle’ which these verses contain:
‘Thanksgiving and praise give rise to gladness, which results in further praise, and praising makes us glad. The best thing we can do when we experience a dearth of gladness is to praise God.’
However it is that you choose to praise God, shall we try this together through this lockdown and see where it leads us in the weeks ahead?