Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

The return to church services in our churches rather than just on Zoom has brought an element of normality back into our lives, and the Prime Minister’s new ‘Rule of Six’ thankfully does not stop us having services in our churches, as long as we observe appropriate social distancing within church. It has been very good to see the congregation again in person, even if their faces are partially obscured by facemasks. It was entirely coincidental that the concluding sentence of the gospel reading on the first Sunday back in church was ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them’ but it was a timely reminder of God’s presence with us, whatever we are facing in our lives. He is there if only we are prepared to recognise him and welcome him into our lives.

But we are not back in normal times yet: anxiety remains for many people over the risk of infection or the breaking of the law if we gather in groups which are too large. I believe that the arrangements in our churches are safe on both counts. Many of our regular congregation members are unhappy about not being able to sing, not being able to exchange the peace by shaking hands and not being able to receive communion in both kinds.  The restrictions on singing and shaking hands can only be sensible given the way in which the Corona Virus is transmitted and it may be many months before we can all belt out our favourite hymns. Likewise, the restrictions on sharing the chalice of wine make sense, though many have wondered why we cannot have individual glasses of wine, as are used in the United Reformed Church and some Methodist churches. Apparently, Church of England canon law does not permit it, though that may of course change. 

One commentator in the Church Times, Canon Angela Tilby, said that the small individual glasses reminded her of the glasses used by Russian soldiers for shots of vodka, which are often smashed against the wall once the vodka has been drunk. It would of course save washing up if we did that!

There are greater frustrations than those imposed on our church congregations: the ‘Rule of Six’ may well make it very difficult for larger families to gather properly. Relationships via Zoom or facetime are really not the same but we will need to have patience. Those frustrations make it all the more important to recognise that our access to God is not limited by Covid-19 or any laws which our Government chooses to make. God is always present when we turn to him, though our human minds can never really understand how he can be. Our need for that reassurance – ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them’ – is greater now than it has been for many years.

There is promising news on the appointment of a new Rector. An announcement may well have been made by the time that you read this, but we hope to be able to give you more details in the next edition.

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John Tattersall