6th April, 2020
I am hoping this will arrive before or close to Easter. It will be a very unusual Easter with none of the shared events that we associate with celebration. However, God remains God and the message of Easter remains the message even if the forms we use to celebrate are not available to us.
We continue to pray ‘together’ in time if not in space, and as we do so we seek to praise God in all circumstances. Praise may be an act of the will, a decision to do something we do not feel like doing, but which it is right to do nonetheless. Our prayer will be for people in need, for people in both frontline and essential but hidden roles in making life possible at the moment, and for ourselves and people we know personally who have particular needs at the moment. I have found myself praying for mercy for us and the world, and you may have found your prayers focussed by the Holy Spirit in directions you did not choose. But prayer is about the Spirit leading that prayer and so we accept and follow that lead.
As church we are playing a role in the life of the nation now in various ways. Do you recall the phrase in our covenant service about being ‘laid aside’? For many of us being ‘laid aside’ is our part in this and that can feel difficult when we are used to being up and doing. However, at present doing nothing, or being limited is not passive acceptance, but rather a deliberate act of help and solidarity. In a practical active sense the church is still serving through Foodbank and the provision of care for people who are isolating while observing all the social distancing rules that apply.
As the focus of Easter is about Resurrection and new life perhaps it is appropriate for us to look not just to the big picture of that in the Kingdom of God, but also to the more immediate new life that will come when the pandemic restrictions are lifted. It is clear that when this is over the normal life that resumes will be different from the normal life we were used to. Exactly how remains to be seen, but is known to God and part of our prayer can be for us, and for people in authority that we are able to respond to the new situations.
You may know the story that in 1941 at the lowest point of World War 2 for this country, Churchill set up a new cabinet committee. It was called the ‘Committee for the reconstruction of Germany’. To set up such a body was either hubris or hope, but it pointed to a positive outcome and to a need to rebuild for all. I am not proposing another committee but the intention to be thinking, and among us praying about that new future. I am sure it was right then and is right now.
If that is the big picture for us now, there is also a more immediate picture of supporting each other. That may be phone calls or clever things over the internet, if you are able to do that please do so we keep in touch. If as you pray you find a concern for someone who you cannot contact please pass that concern to the minister of the church so we can follow that up. Sometimes that sense is right for reasons we do not know.
I wish you a blessed if unusual Easter.
Websites: Methodist.org.uk will take you to Methodist resources
Swanbank.org.uk will take you to Swanbank and they have online worship each week
23rd March 2020
Obviously, this is a rapidly changing situation with new guidance coming from government and the national church frequently. As a staff we wondered how to respond now, and we will be updating and changing this as necessary.
At the moment (5pm 19th March 2020) we are not able to meet for worship, Fellowship or any other activity so our buildings are effectively out of use. There is no indication of how long this situation will continue.
So, we offer these suggestions.
We may not be able to pray in the same building, but we can pray at the same time. So, I invite you to join us in prayer at 11am for 15 minutes (longer if you wish) each day, and to pray knowing that others round the circuit are doing the same thing.
On Sundays the staff will pray alone in a church building, working their way round the buildings week by week. This will keep the prayer in those spaces and mean we have a further check on the fabric.
I am sure you will know who and where to focus your prayers, but could I ask that you add our new super Jenny Dyer to your list as she is presently stuck in India trying to find a flight home.
You may already have a pattern of prayer and bible reading that you follow, but if you need an extra focus you could try reading a gospel right through. If so, try starting with Mark. Other things to read could be a Psalm or a hymn from the hymn book. There are various worship resources available on the internet and new things are being created which we may send out as they become available.
Caring for each other
This is more difficult as our natural inclination is to come together and we cannot do that. As a staff we will be keeping in touch with people by phone and there is no reason that we cannot do that for each other so that we keep our links and have people to share with as we deal with this strange time.
If you find yourself, or know of someone else in particular need please speak to your own minister and we will try to help in every way we can. Could you also try and identify people on the edge of your congregation or people with no family locally who might need some support?
In the wider setting Foodbank is intending to keep providing its service while being mindful of the demands of social distancing.
The circuit office is continuing to function for its usual hours at present. Please phone or email don’t visit.
Finance – at present we are ok financially and have reserves we can use across the circuit while no-one has any income because things are closed. I would ask that you put your weekly offering to one side so when things resume and we are able to share worship again we can catch up financially.
We are taking steps to look after the property sensibly through this time.
As things change we will try to update what we are doing and how it will work.
For the moment the key thing is we support and care for each other in the ways that we can.
Thank you for all that you have and are doing.
Remember we are still the people of God and God in Jesus works through us.
Chris, Joyce, Kim and Paul