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.