Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
The Church is still open, the Kingdom is still at work. Worship is still happening. Prayers are being said and “we who are many are one body for we are all in Christ we are His body we are the consecrated we are blessed and broken and sent.”
When the Temple was destroyed (you can choose which time as your example) and central worship was ceased, the Church lamented and mourned and feared. How do you hold a society together without the central ICON of its existence in place? And yet it was in these times that people had to reorder their worship, rethink their relationship with God and had to interact with the world differently. It was in exile that God was renewing his Church. It is in this time that each one of us needs to take responsibility for our relationship with God and for respond to the privilege that comes with salvation.
We decided to close our churches before the Diocese made that decision. And here’s why.
This is what LENT is truly about – a wilderness, a different, a deeper experience of alone time with God, reordering our lives. And Secondly, we are saying to the world – we are with you in this. We are not given into fear, but we are definitely not given to arrogance. As an act of compassion and empathy, we are going to reorder our lives.
We Celebrate Easter and the Resurrection every Sunday, and so this is just an extension of Lent that is occurring. Like when God extended the period of Exile as recorded in Isaiah.
Please don’t say this is unprecedented – it is not – we have faced many plagues before and we have been taken into the wilderness many times before – This year Lent is not just a symbolic gesture – it is real. Withdrawing from our normal routines is not a gesture – it is real. Do not miss the reality of the opportunity that we have been given. Read your Scripture and you will see that this is not unprecedented. Our failure, God’s mercy, The Spirit leading us into the wilderness. Our doubt, our grumbling, our fear, are all part of the process of God redeeming us, saving us and equipping us for what he wants from us.
You are going to be tempted to fear. You are going to be tempted to give in. But this is a time for deep reflection and prayer. And its real. And I, as your Priest, am write here… no that’s not a spelling mistake – I am right here at the other end of a text or an email or a social media post. Let’s interact.
The Following steps are going to be implemented during this time of “exile.” This is the greatest opportunity I have seen in my lifetime to truly do LENT! Jesus is drawing us aside from everything that we are familiar with to reorder our lives and deepen our Worship and Faith.
- I encourage every single person to take a prayer book home and use the Daily Offices and Lectionary readings to spend time in corporate prayer. (In other words praying the same thing reading the same scripture. We should have been doing this anyway!) It is this shared life of daily prayer and scripture reading that should be holding us, the Church, together.
We will send out messages of encouragement and guidelines to do this. Very few people have studied or used the Prayer Book effectively and this is our chance to really take this central part of our community life seriously.
We are in the process of setting up daily Morning and Evening Prayers which will be broadcast on the social Media Platform – ZOOM. You can download Zoom on your smart phone or computer.
I will send out details on Tuesday about the times – so please notify me if you would be interested in joining this initiative.
- We will send out three messages per day on the Parish Notifications WhattsApp. To keep people informed and hold us together in the journey. We are going to ease into a new way of doing things – because I want it to be sustainable. These are not interim measures either. I want us to develop new worship habits in the next three weeks. I want us to BE CHURCH 24/7 and then make Sundays our celebration of being that Church.
- I encourage you to journal during this time. You don’t have to write reams and reams – just jot short notes. “How am I feeling,” What is God saying to me?” “What challenges am I facing?”
- From Tuesday 24th St Mary’s will remain open, daily from 8 to 12. People may come and pray and partake of the blessed sacrament – using a liturgy provided. It is suggested that when you go out to the shops or do other essential trips, you go via the church too and you may take the Consecrated Host back to your family and share in the communion at home.
- Please send prayer requests to the Church Office.
- A team of Pastoral Carers will be in contact with you, message or a telephone call just to see how you are doing.
- Should you require assistance in any way please message me on my 24/7 0823704702 number.
- Shopping is something that we still all must do and everyone is doing everything to make that possible. If you are in self quarantine and need your shopping done – please contact the office. (We also need volunteers to assist with this).
- You are the Church- you need to look at the needs of your community (Work, street, complex) and find ways of loving and caring and serving. I urge especially the youth to find ways to use this time constructively. Don’t just binge watch U-Tube – set your self a goal for this time and be constructive.
Finally my brothers and sisters, be patient. Change is never easy, and it is always unsettling. But it is “the way of Lent.”
Matthew 6:6 – 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Be assured of my prayers.