Strange Times

What strange times we are living through! While the sun continues to shine in the sky and Spring turns into Summer, many of us are confined to our homes except for our daily exercise, shopping for essentials, and essential work that we cannot do at home. Our churches are closed on Government instructions and yet, as the notices on our churches remind us, the Church is really alive and active. It may not seem like that to many of you, but I do commend our on-line Holy Communion services each Sunday for the whole benefice at 10a.m. (although open for chat at 9.30a.m.) on Zoom, the first of which we launched on Easter Day to an attendance that beat attendances at most of our monthly Benefice Eucharists. If you are not already on the invitation list for these services, please contact me on and I will make sure that you are invited.  They provide an opportunity to see, hear and greet many of the neighbours and friends that you may not have been able to see since lock down commenced. While we cannot achieve the full rituals that we are used to, including sharing communion, we can hear God’s word, sing hymns and pray together.

But these times have allowed me, at least, to catch up with reading as well thinking and praying about what really matters in our lives. I finally managed to read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book – Saying Yes to life, by Ruth Valerio. It is a book designed to lift our focus from everyday concerns, including concerns about the Corona Virus, Covid-19,  to issues that will have an impact on millions of lives around the world long after we have found a vaccine to protect against Covid-19 and the restrictions on our movement and meetings have been lifted. It draws on the creation story in Genesis to remind us what we should be doing to protect God’s wonderful creation, including our fellow human beings and the other creatures with whom we share the world. I recommend it as a read even after the end of Lent. Coincidentally it follows a meeting of our Diocesan Synod in March (before lock down) at which we declared a climate emergency and required the Diocese and its parishes to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035. That will be a challenge for many of our churches and indeed for many of our clergy houses which still use oil-fired central heating. Thus, as the rituals of our regular worship and of our lives change because of the Corona Virus, at least temporarily, perhaps it is a good time to think how we should change our lives in the longer term to save creation for future generations, as well as supporting our fellow human beings both near and far away.

The Easter message which many of us shared on Easter Day reminded us of what Christians believe, namely that Jesus Christ rose from the dead as part of a new creation on the first Easter Day. In the Easter gospel story he tells Mary Magdalene, the first of his disciples to meet him after his resurrection, not to hold onto him in his old human form, but he allows her to embrace him in his new eternal form, a presence in her heart and mind long after his human form has gone. It is a reminder to all of us not to abandon the Church because our church buildings are closed, but to embrace the Church in an eternal form that is not confined to church buildings and indeed is present in our hearts and minds as we study God’s word and pray together.

However, please do come back to our church buildings once they are reopened: I have continued to list the services that we would have held in May if permitted, and might still hold if lock down is lifted before the end of May. I have also included the list of readings for each Sunday that you can, of course, read at any time though we shall be sharing them in our virtual Holy Communions each Sunday at 10a.m.

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John Tattersall