Dear Friends …
This is just a simple note to touch base whilst we are all observing the quarantine period. It is a strange thing – for clergy and congregation both, I’m sure – to be locked down at just the time we are preparing to mark Christ’s resurrection at Easter. A valued colleague has pointed out, and I’m sure many of you will echo, how deeply grieved he is not to be able to sing aloud with the whole congregation during Holy Week. (If I remember the detail correctly, he said it was the first time in 62 years that he hadn’t been able to.) Likewise, I would so much rather be greeting you warmly in person on a Sunday morning than sending out services on the internet (about which, more below)! So very much has changed since I wrote my last letter around Ash Wednesday.
That said, the current situation in many ways presents us with the opportunity to showcase the best of what our common life has to offer. We are not called simply to be a Sunday church, but to be the love and the hands of Christ wherever we are. Thus, I am particularly heartened by the number of people who are regularly checking on one another and offering support and assistance where it is needed. Indeed, Sally and I are grateful to those who have checked in on us, too! Whilst no one would wish for the challenges and the struggles we undoubtedly face, yet already I see that some aspects of society are changing, and I hope those changes will remain: neighbours who did not know one another before meet and chat (at a safe distance!) during the weekly Thursday night clap for the NHS; social media – for so long just a chattering shop devoid of meaningful content – has suddenly become a lifeline, through which we are beginning to communicate with real substance; the tribal hatreds formed during the Brexit debate (remember that?) have given way to a real sense that we’re all in this together, and that was we owe to one another is to look after each other. People who may never have darkened the door of a Church are praying – or at least beginning to seek signs of God’s love in the midst of chaos. For these things, if not of course for the epidemic itself, I am thankful and, indeed, hopeful for what we, as a people, can be.
I am likewise thankful that so many continue to “pray without ceasing”, as the scriptures urge us to do – and to let me know that they are doing so. Though we are each in our own particular places, yet our prayers still join with one another, and with those of Christians throughout the world, and in this grand sweep of prayer, the Church of God remains alive and active. Below are a few resources to help you join us in daily prayer. I look forward to seeing you again as soon as is possible, and in the mean time, please pray for me, as I also pray for you.
We have set up a YouTube channel to stream our Sunday Services, clergy reflections, and weekday prayer. You can find it at http://saintjohns.stream/youtube .
We have a Facebook page for Maindee Parish (St. John’s & St. Mary’s) at http://fb.me/JonMaryAndyPhil . Please find us and click “like” to keep up with day to day news and thoughts.
Lliswerry Parish (St. Andrew’s & St. Mary’s) also run a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/154232777944600 . It is lively and lots of conversation goes on there.
Easter Schedules will be coming very shortly.