Christmas in the Parish – 16th December Update

Like so many people, the Rector and Churchwardens have been monitoring the daily developments on Covid and taken (and been given) a number of opinions from around the parish on what is (and is not) appropriate for the churches to be doing with Covid.  We appreciate that there is a wide range of views and we cannot please all the people all the time ….

However, our priority has been – and will remain – the protection of those who come to church, and hence we will naturally err on the side of caution.  To that end we have agreed the following arrangements “for the moment” :

  • We are asking all the key personnel at services; minister, choir, wardens, etc. to take a lateral flow test before the service and, if there are any concerns, not attend.  While this is not a requirement, we would encourage all parishioners to consider testing before attending services.
  • The latest guidance has mandated that masks should be worn in places of worship, and we ask that you comply with this.  If you forget your mask, we should have a supply in each church.  We know that some people are exempt from wearing masks, and we will respect this, but you may wish to be particularly aware of distancing from others.
  • We ask that – in our churches – you social distance as much as you can.  Please respect that other people’s view of an acceptable social distance may be a greater gap than yours.  If you want to chat after the service, please can you do this outside.
  • Whilst we do not expect that any of our services will reach the levels of attendance in “pre-pandemic” times, please accept that we might have to refuse entry if numbers are deemed, by the rector and / or duty wardens, to be too high.
  • You should also use hand sanitiser on arrival, either your own or from a supply that will be at the entrance.

 

  • Whilst we heat our churches (to a lesser or greater extent) we will be trying to ensure that ventilation is still present (apart from any natural draughts that come with old buildings).  You may want to ensure that you wear a coat, although we don’t want to waste the heating.
  • The guidance allows singing and we know that for many people singing with masks on is inconvenient (and can lead to difficulties).  Some people find the basic disposable mask is slightly easier to sing through, than the full linen ones, but you may have your own preference for protection.  If you are at all concerned, then please sit either at the rear of our churches, or at the side.

Service of 9 lessons and carols

Because of the need to restrict numbers in attendance, this service is – we are sorry – only for those who have already booked, either using the listings in the three churches or by contacting the churchwardens / Rector.

For those attending, you can use the hotel’s garden car park (first on the left after St Margaret’s), in addition to parking at the church.  Please do avoid parking on the verges if this might make the driveway too narrow for those heading for the hotel. 

Crib Services – CANCELLED

Given the high occurrence of Covid amongst school children in both the village schools, and around, as well as quite natural fears of infection so close to Christmas, we have decided that we are unable to hold crib services this year.  We did look at a range of options, from multiple ticketed services to outdoor events, but there was a reluctance to commit.  Our thanks to those who tried to help.

First Eucharist of Christmas

This service will start at 11:00 pm on Christmas Eve, so that we end on Christmas Day.  We are keeping this service open to all who wish to attend, but will monitor numbers.

As with the Service of 9 Lessons and Carols, parking is available at the hotel as well as around the church.

Christmas Day services

The services on Christmas Day are :

9:00 St Mark’s Family Communion

10:00 St Margaret’s Family Worship

10:30 St Mary’s Christmas Mass

As with all our services, we will monitor numbers as they arrive, but attendance in recent years suggests that numbers should be manageable.

Open churches

We try to keep our churches open during daylight hours, for personal prayer and reflection.  If you are unable or unwilling to attend a formal service, why not drop into one of our churches and spend a bit of time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas?

Each church will have a crib in it.

We will probably close our churches after the services on Christmas Day (to allow the duty wardens to relax), but on all the other days they should be open. 

News from St Mary’s  (January 2022)

First and foremost, all good wishes for a happy and prosperous 2022 from us here at St Mary’s. We enter the new year with some essential restoration to the fabric now complete, and a regular pattern of worship with Fr Pete Molloy and Fr David Milnes sharing the role of celebrant. We have welcomed some new members of the congregation in 2021, but also sadly miss some long standing members who have passed on. 

Like all churches, we have notices and information on display. We like to keep this to a minimum at St Mary’s, as too many leaflets are likely to overwhelm and be ignored. One set of leaflets that we keep permanently is the ‘Why?’ series produced by the Church Union.  Wikipedia describes the Church Union as ‘an Anglo-Catholic advocacy organisation within the Church of England’. It dates back to the 19th century and has offices in Tufton Street in Westminster. So these are titled the ‘Tufton Leaflets’. There are six in all, dealing with aspects of worship which are associated with the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

We are often asked about the tradition and meaning of using incense as part of worship, and Leaflet No1 puts it far better than I can-

We try to offer the best of ourselves to God in worship. Worship involves all our senses. Light, colour, movement and music are important parts of our offering.  Our ears hear the Word of God. Our mouths sing His praises. Our eyes see the colours of the Christian Year (purple, white, red and green) often set within a glorious church or cathedral. Through these scented clouds, our prayers and praises slowly rise to heaven, enfolded in perfume.

The leaflet goes on to list a number of references to incense in the Bible. Here are two of them-

Frankincense (incense) was one of the gifts given to the infant Jesus by the Three Wise Men (Matthew 23.11). It was a rare and precious gift for the new born King.

Incense is used to describe the worship of Heaven in picture language. The living creatures and the Elders fall before the Lamb of God ‘each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the Saints’ (Revelation 5.8).

I shall be taking a look at two more of the leaflets next month, and you can find all six in the Walsingham Chapel lobby on the rotating leaflet stand. The church is open all day during daylight hours.

Keith Revoir      

 

  

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