Letter from the Rector

   

 

 

Dear Friends,

As a new year dawns, few of us are likely to forget 2020 in a hurry. It was the year a global pandemic brought much of life as we know it to a standstill. Back in March when the first lockdown was announced it was hard to believe the footage we saw of busy bustling cities like New York, London, Paris, and Madrid deserted of people as airports, businesses and shops closed their doors. It was hard to fathom that, as the children were collected from school one Friday in March, that would be their last day for that academic year.

Some of you had to learn really fast to stay one step ahead with the home-schooling programme as teachers went online with their learning platforms. People had to deal with challenging restrictions as they planned and cancelled and replanned weddings. Holidays had to be cancelled and reorganised as people became familiar with phrases like quarantine and self-isolation. Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions were advised to shield themselves from contact with others.

Some have still not been able to see parents or grandparents as nursing homes and hospitals introduced very strict visiting policies and, in some cases, had to close all contact with the wider population because of the deadly outbreaks of coronavirus.

Perhaps the saddest experience of all has been the severe restrictions around funerals. Very limited numbers have been able to gather at crematoriums, in cemeteries, and thankfully in more recent times, in churches to say farewell to loved ones.

People haven’t been able to come into each other’s houses and hug and hold one another or shake hands to express their sympathies. Ceremonies have been reduced in length to minimise contact with others and it has left a vale of sadness throughout the world as so many people have lost their lives to this virus.

The church, too, has had to learn to do things in a whole new way. Everything is measured in risk and so we sit two metres apart from each other unless people are part of our “bubble”. Singing isn’t permitted, books cannot be shared; services are online as we watch and listen from the safety of our homes.

Church buildings have been closed for months on end, organisations have not been permitted to gather and clergy not allowed to visit in people’s homes unless there are special circumstances.

We have had to conduct PCC meetings over Zoom. We have gathered our Sunday Schools over Zoom. The Messy Church team also has produced events online to introduce children to the life of faith. Wednesday Worship has moved to Zoom, Compline also.

Devotional materials have been made available on the church’s website and Facebook page and through the Benefice weekly newsletter, downloadable from the website or sent by email.

Parishioners have tried to support each other through phoning people they maybe never knew before and this pastoral support has been a real lifeline to those who have had much to contend with in this difficult year. Teams have also been helping people in the community with shopping and collecting medications.

As January approaches and we welcome 2021 my overwhelming sense is one of thankfulness. I’m thankful of course for the news that the first vaccinations are taking place across the Benefice and country.

I’m thankful for the incredible support I have had from Wendy and parishioners as together we have tried to navigate these new and challenging situations.

I’m encouraged to see people taking hold of the gifts God has given them and using them to make a real difference for good in the lives of others. I’m grateful for the way God has provided for and met our needs in terms of financial resources. It has been such a blessing that we have had the resources and the vision to invest in equipment that has been such a lifeline to many who feel very isolated and to enable us to reach a global audience.

I’m grateful for the massive efforts that go in each week from churchwardens and others who oversee the upkeep of the church’s property and buildings. I’m grateful to the hardworking teams who act as stewards and cleaners and take those important records for contact tracing in the event of anyone getting ill.

I am grateful that myself and Ginny are able to offer recorded assemblies for all our Benefice schools. Did you know there are people who gather each week to pray for the life and witness of our churches and for situations around the world?

There is an individual who has made himself available to pray for any situation people want prayer for simply by lifting the phone and asking him to pray for us? Our treasurers are maintaining our accounts and finances, ensuring our governance is in order and ordering supplies of sanitiser and other commodities we need to keep functioning.

As we enter a New Year can we make much of Jesus by gathering to worship Him either in person or online? Can we spend more time with Him or start to spend time with Him through beginning to read our Bible? Can we make much of Jesus by resolving in 2021 to do whatever we do for Him in terms of our daily work or our home life or through how we reach out to our neighbours and fellow parishioners? Can we share articles or services we have found helpful or inspiring with others by clicking like and share? Can we honour him through generous giving to organisations and agencies that seek to make Him known and make a practical difference in the lives of those who are vulnerable?

As we look back on an unforgettable year can I say thank you for all you have done and encourage you to make much of Jesus in any way you can in 2021.

Every Blessing

Rev Jon
January 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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