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The Vicar's Letter - July 2020

Dear Friends

 

If all goes to plan we MIGHT be worshipping together in St Luke's Church building again on Sunday 12th July. If all goes to plan… we might…!

 

• But what will our worship look like, especially if we can’t

  sing?

• What will our fellowship be like, if we can’t shake hands

  with one another, can’t even get closer to one another than

  one or two metres?

• What will communion be like, if we can’t go to the altar rail

  and can’t drink the wine?

 

There are a lot of imponderables!

 

Last month the Bishop of Leeds posed four questions for us to think about:

 

a)  what have I/we lost in the last few months that must

    remain lost?

b)  what has been lost that we must regain in the months

    ahead?

c)  what has been gained in the last few months that must

    now be retained or developed?

d)  what has been gained that was fine for the season but

    can now be lost

 

I’d love to know what you think!

 

Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, and the chair of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, issued a statement at the end of June saying this:

 

“The last three months have been an extraordinary time - the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.

 

“We will not be returning to normality overnight - this is the next step on a journey… It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive… Not all church buildings will be ready to hold regular services from July 4th, but we are providing whatever support we can to enable them.

 

“There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.

 

Tony Walker

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope.

 

“Churches and cathedrals have risen to the recent challenges, finding new ways of meeting for worship, of serving our neighbours, and of reaching new people with the love of God. The challenge before us now is to take the next steps carefully and safely, without forgetting all that we’ve discovered about God and ourselves on the way.”

 

Closing our church buildings in March was the easy part. Re-opening the church buildings and still keeping everyone safe may be a harder task.

 

For what it’s worth here are some of my answers to the questions above:

a) what have I/we lost in the last few months that must

   remain lost?

Drinking communion wine from the common chalice (sadly); meetings for the sake of meetings (gladly!)

 

b) what has been lost that we must regain in the months

   ahead?

Meeting together informally; eating and drinking with others; Holy Communion with bread and wine; baptisms and weddings, and funerals in church; activities involving children and families, Messy Church, Open the Book, Collective Worship in schools; Bible Study and prayer in person etc etc.

 

c) what has been gained in the last few months that must

   now be retained or developed?

Sense of togetherness between St Mary’s and St Luke’s; pastoral care and visiting of those who don’t have access to email/internet; working together of lay leaders and clergy; people who don’t come to church being able to watch/listen to worship services and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

 

d) what has been gained that was fine for the season but

   can now be lost?

Decision-making for churches done centrally by the Bishops alone - we need to get back to local clergy and lay people making decisions together!

 

Now is the time for us locally not just to dream about a new future, but also to begin to turn it into a reality!