There have been many reactions this week to the suspension of public worship in the Church of England, and in our own church here in Lincoln. Some people have been angry. Others have tried to negotiate ways to continue gathering for public worship, looking for loopholes in the restrictions that the Government and the national church have imposed. Others have refused to believe that this is really happening.
These and other reactions speak to me powerfully of the experience of grief. Grief is a complex set of emotions, as well as a process that we go through when we lose something that we care about.
In a strange way it is encouraging that people care enough about gathering for public worship in church to experience grief when that is taken away! But it is also deeply affecting. People are sad, people are frightened, people are lonely and confused. It has called for, and received, the biggest effort we have ever made to reach out to every single person in our community, offering support, encouragement and prayer.
Many have broken my heart by wondering what they can do. Concrete answers to those offers of help will be arriving very soon! But in the meantime, this day, I am going to ask all of you to do two very simple things. The first thing is to say your prayers. If you receive the e-Church mailout, use that to help. If not, or if you prefer, , choose some prayers of your own, maybe finishing off with the Lord’s Prayer. The key message is that just because it is now much more difficult to pray in church, that doesn’t mean that we can’t pray as a church.
The second thing that I’d like to ask you all to do is to light a candle. Churches Together in England has issued an invitation to ‘Light a candle of hope’ at 7pm this Mothering Sunday. Light a candle and place it in your window as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
May God bless you all,