A letter from The Vicar, Revd Will Gibbs
The latest Government restrictions and a third national lockdown bring with them many challenges and elicit a whole range of emotions, I’m sure.
For my part, I am relieved in three particular ways. I am relieved because the current numbers of Covid cases and infection rates are incredibly high, especially locally, and something needed to be done before things spiralled out of control.
I am also relieved because it means that the schools are closed until at least February Half Term. I had real concerns for Claire and for all teachers working in close proximity to lots of children from many
households with this new more infectious variant. (But I know this will be hard for parents working from home and juggling busy work pressures and home schooling and childcare.)
And, thirdly, I am relieved that this current lockdown still permits churches to be open – both for private prayer and for individuals to come and visit and pray, but also that public worship can continue to be offered.
This is a notable difference compared to the restrictions in the first national lockdown and bears testimony to the efforts and protocols that we and many churches have put in place to ensure that coming to a service is as safe as we can possibly make it.
It does mean that St Mary’s will continue to be open each day from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Saturday, and from 7.30 am until 5 pm on Sundays. Permission for churches to stay open means that each of us has a choice about whether to come to St Mary’s or not, rather than that choice being taken from us.
I realise that there will be a considerable number who won’t feel able to attend services at the moment and that is fully understood and appreciated. Please know that you are missed and are being thought of and prayed for.
We will be continuing to offer our online services each Sunday morning and from the kind messages we have received I know that many people have taken great comfort from these. The fact that these are broadcast at 9.30 am with almost identical words and music to our service in church also at 9.30 am gives us an added sense that we are very much together, even if apart for now.
For those who don’t feel able to attend services in church at the
moment, do consider calling in to St Mary’s quietly under your own steam, so that you can sit and pray for a while during the week. I know that many have found great peace and solace by being able to still come in and enjoy the sense of God’s presence and peace in this place. And it is warm!
You can also light a candle on the votive candle stand if you wish, and that is being used and appreciated by many since we acquired it. It is lovely to come in to church and see a number of candles burning as a
sign that others have been there before us and have been praying also.
And for those who do feel able to come to services, we continue to offer 9.30 am Morning Prayer and 5 pm Evening Prayer each weekday, our 7.30 pm Wednesday Eucharist and weekend communion services at 5 pm on Saturdays and 8 am and 9.30 am on Sundays.
Last weekend, we had almost identical numbers attending at each
of these so our desire ‘to spread the load’ is working well and it means that we can space out more than the required 2 metres and feel very secure and comforted by that.
We will wait to see what the next Government review brings and what this means for us but, in the meantime, if you are aware of anyone who is struggling or who needs support or pastoral care then please do let me know so that we can respond appropriately.
Whatever life throws at us at the moment, I am determined that we stay together as a church, even if apart to an extent, and that our prayer, worship and pastoral care of each other continues and is extended, as we make our way at the start of 2021.