Last week I began a series of reflections on the lockdown by exploring what I feel I have learned about the painful privilege of prayer. This week, I continue the series with some thoughts about the importance of places and objects in our spiritual lives.
This week, and for the next three weeks, I want to use this column to offer some reflections on the lockdown. It seems to be a good moment to take stock. We’re back in the church building for public worship, but also learning fast that things are unlikely to return quickly, if ever, to the way they once were. It’s the holiday season with many, myself included, taking some time away from their normal responsibilities. Time, then, for a pause to ask ourselves what we have learned.
General Eisenhower, I’m reliably informed, used to say that ‘plans are worthless, but planning is everything’. I’ve learned how true that is in recent days and weeks. In order to re-open the church for public worship I have had to produced countless pages of planning material. Some of you will have read (some of) it! But these ‘plans’ are, if not entirely worthless, not really the point. The point is the process which I and others have been through in working out all the many precautions that need to be taken and details that need to be adjusted in order to make public worship as safe as it possibly can be. It’s the fact that we’ve been through the process that enables us to respond to the inevitable surprises that pop up.
While Covid restrictions remain in place, we encourage as many people as possible to download the order of service for the Eucharist. Please bring this with you either on a tablet or phone, or print it out at home yourself and bring that with you.
You can download the order of service for use on a tablet or phone here:
You can download the order of service for printing out at home here:
Our risk management documentation is now available. You can download it here:
Most of those who read this letter will also have heard the Prime Minister announce, earlier this week, that churches would be permitted to re-open from 4th July onwards. This is, of course, exciting and encouraging news, and I’m sure that we all very much hope and pray that this is the next step in the steady return to a more familiar way of being church.
It’s been another interesting week in the parish! On Monday, for the first time since March, we opened the doors of the church building to the public. With scrupulous arrangements in place to ensure that this does not pose a risk to the health of our community, we were glad to provide a place for prayer, for human contact, and to begin to see the possibility emerging faintly on the horizon that we may at some point be able to gather more freely for worship.
Many of you will have heard on the news, or perhaps seen online, that the Government has just announced that church buildings may re-open for private prayer from today. I wanted, therefore, to write to you immediately to explain what is happening with regard to the re-opening of our own church building.
Of all the Sundays in the year, Trinity Sunday is perhaps the one on which we look most deeply into the being of God, what God is. What we encounter, unsurprisingly, is a mystery that is properly beyond us. We should not expect to understand God.
I wonder if you have a favourite day in the year? For some people it might be their birthday, while others might be big Christmas fans. I’ve known people who were super keen on Valentine’s Day, while perhaps a Wedding Anniversary carries the most meaning for some. Looking forward to these exciting landmarks is often as enjoyable as celebrating them when they arrive. I remember the excitement of looking forward to Christmas when I was a child as vividly as the happy family times that followed.