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.
The period between Ascension Day and Pentecost is one of the most important in the Church’s year. In it we pray with particular and focused intensity for God to renew the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. During these nine days, it can be helpful to have some additional help in praying in this way. In recent years, this has blossomed into a global event called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
As I write I am looking forward to being able to stand in the Sanctuary of our church building and celebrate the Eucharist for the first time since we had to lock the church doors, eight weeks ago. At present, only I and members of my household are permitted to do this, as a result of recently relaxed guidelines on church buildings.
The Coronavirus lockdown has prompted a great deal of reflection in the Church, and not a little disagreement. At the heart of this reflection and disagreement there is one comparatively simple little question: does it matter that we cannot meet together in our church buildings? Continue reading The Church Building Still Matters
I was struck when opening my Church Times on Friday by a headline referring to the ‘40 days and 40 nights’ of lockdown that we have so far experienced. These words make a link between Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness and our present time of isolation. Both, in turn, echo a far older narrative, that of the forty years spent by the people of Israel in the wilderness between their deliverance from Egypt and their arrival in the Promised Land. Continue reading Wilderness Times
I’ve spent much of the last week on a course. Normally, I would have travelled down to Leicester and stayed in a hotel for this. Classroom sessions would have taken place in the St Michael’s Centre just across the way from Leicester Cathedral. The hotel bar might also have been a venue for some of the (very important) interactions in which one learns with and from one’s peers.