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. 

Contribution from St Mary the Virgin to the Buxted Messenger – June 2021 Edition

In my contribution to the Messenger in April, with lockdown just beginning to ease and the celebration of Easter, these things seemed like a merciful release from the dark days of winter, quite literally, when we were dealing with the awful impacts of the third wave of Covid in our communities and country.
Now in June, we are approaching, through the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, potentially the removal of many of the restrictions that up to now have kept us as safe as we can be. So many have been vaccinated, some fully, for which we are truly grateful. But with the clamour to get back to normal, many of us are feeling uncertain, a little anxious, about how to be and what to do. We aren’t even sure what normal feels like any more.
Be assured that since the return to public worship at St Mary’s and across the Parish, we are strenuously complying with up to date government and Diocesan guidelines.
But the impacts on our mental well being of the last year and more should not be shuffled under the carpet, ignored or disregarded. In our church and Parish we look to make time to speak to one another; if you reach out someone will listen, in confidence, to your cares and concerns. And this is an active listening, one which means that it can result in doing things for each other, so that our care and concern is demonstrated by action as much as by word. And we can pray for one another, again being open to what God leads us to do, to be the means by which he works in this world to alleviate the concerns and suffering of one another.
God often speaks to calm our anxieties in the bible. In John 14, Jesus spoke to his disciples of the time when he would no longer be with them in person. He reassured them and us all that we are not left alone. And in so doing he said (v27): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus wasn’t saying that as his people life for us would be easy or free from trouble or anxiety. But the love and grace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, equip us to face up to the things we most fear and to know the deep peace which he offers to us all.
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you

St Marks from above

St Marks from above

Our photographer was invited to take this unusual angle photograph of St Marks. It was taken from scaffolding when the chimney was being repaired.

Covid update 5th January

Good Morning Friends,

Things are changing very quickly aren’t they? Like you, your wardens and I have been trying to wrap our minds around the guidance released last night concerning Lockdown 3.0. For the sake of clarity moving forward, we wanted to communicate our interpretation of the regulations as it relates to our common life together in the parish. Please regard these as being somewhat provisional as further guidance may be provided by the Diocese of Chichester or the Church of England, and of course we may not quite have everything sorted at this time. That being said, our position is ….

1. Public Worship in the parish will continue to be suspended until further notice.

2. Church buildings will remain open during daylight hours for private prayer.

3. Funerals, (including those scheduled for this week) will be permitted under guidance and with a maximum attendance of 30 persons.

4. The planned doorstep visitation to ‘Chalk Doors’ and bless homes will take place. Masks and limited contact will be required. (Please be in contact if would like a visit)

5. All other parish activity will be suspended or moved online unless meeting is absolutely necessary.

All of this being said, Christ’s Church in this community will continue to bring Glory to God, continue to make him known and will continue to comfort and nourish the faithful with prayer and God’s Holy Word.

Moving forward in Lockdown 3.0, let me encourage us all to re-engage with our three pronged strategy that we established in the fall lockdown:
1. Edifying teaching and worship through our Youtube channel;
2. Diligence in our lives of private prayer and study of scripture; and
3. Mutual encouragement and support.

On the first,  we will continue to follow the current pattern of a regular Sunday worship video and a mid-week devotional. And we will also continue to request that our parish musicians contribute videos as they are able and comfortable. The regulations allow for the churches to be used for the purposes of recording during lockdown, so you would be welcome to shoot there, or at home. Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts is willing to make background tracks available for this.  Additionally, I would like to broaden the scope of these videos at this time to invited other people in the parish to record videos for our common life and mutual encouragement. Perhaps you would like to read a favourite scripture passage, or psalm or poem and explain what you have learned from it, and why you have found it to be encouraging. If this is of interest, please let me know and I will provide you some direction on how best to record this. And again you can record this at home or at the churches, and if the technology seems daunting, I would be happy to meet you at one of our parish churches to record your contribution. We would love to hear from you.

Regarding private prayer and the study of scripture, during the last lockdown the Archbishops of Canterbury and York requested we use the Prayer for the Nation material, and I think quite a few in the parish did make use of that. In the coming days, I will see if similar material will be provided to order our prayers and will look into providing other resources for our parish. Additionally, let me encourage us all, as we begin this new lockdown and this new year to commit ourselves to a plan for reading through scripture. There are many schemes available from our BCP or CW lectionaries, or One Year Bible plans. Again I will try to put together some recommendations and get them to you in short order. In the meantime, let me encourage you to start reading anywhere. A chapter or two of the gospels, a few psalms etc…, Whatever it is, let us begin digging deep wherever we are.

Finally, let us encourage one another with regular contact (socially distanced of course). I proposed a scheme in the fall of a centralized calling plan to ensure everyone is reached. It ran into administrative difficulty with privacy issues regarding information sharing etc…, so let’s try this a bit differently,  and I think it might even be more effective. Let’s simply think and pray about the parish, and especially the congregations to which we belong and write down those names that we think might need some encouragement and commit to calling them on a regular basis. I suspect that that is simple enough to work. Calls can be quite simple, a quick hello and check in. If you are both comfortable you can pray together. If not just remember them in your morning or nightly prayers. It doesn’t need to be complicated. And of course, should you in the course of your conversation discern that they would like a call from the rector, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I have a short list of people with whom,  I am trying to keep in contact. I have room to add names.

There is a great Canadian political philosopher, Red Green (well worth looking up during the lockdown) who ends his lectures reminding his listeners that we are all in this together, and it’s true. Despite being apart in our homes, God left us his Holy Spirit and one another to comfort and encourage each other. Let us pray that during this Lockdown we will grow in faith and grow together as a body in this community.

God Bless,

CPM+

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