I love the line from the book 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis where the land of Narnia is described as being perpetually 'winter but never Christmas.' For me, that describes a little of how our own daily reality is too.
We live with the 'winter' reality of COVID-19 as part of our everyday living (we are at level 3 of Lockdown which, according to the government, means that the virus is in general circulation and that the handwashing rules and 2 metre distancing still apply) but are also being encouraged to look and live towards 'Christmas' where the impact of this very dangerous virus has less and less hold on us, to the point where we can live a new normal again. Until that time we live betwixt and between.
This is true for us as church communities. Our buildings are open as places to pray and contemplate again, despite having been closed earlier in the year to all worship and activity. In our parish that means that you are warmly welcome to come to pray in your church on the following occasions:
St Peter's Mill End St Thomas' West Hyde
Sundays - 12noon-4pm Fridays - 1pm-3pm
Thursdays - 10am- 12noon
We are working towards opening St John's too.
Please take note of the clear instructions as you enter the buildings and inside, to ensure the safety of both you and others.
We are of course also looking forward to 'Christmas', where public worship and community activities will resume. The government and the Church of England's Recovery group have allowed church communities to gather for public worship again as of July 4th, please be aware that we are *not* in a position yet to enable that to happen as there will be more preparation that needs to be undertaken.
When we do return to worshipping together it will be *very different* for some time going forward. When I am in a position to give you a sense of what worship together will look like and when it might happen I will be in touch again. As we continue to live with the reality of COVID 19 in our communities, our worship will remain on Facebook, Zoom and the Parish website so we can worship 'together apart.'
I have been thinking much about what the church offers our community when so many other people of faith and none are engaged in fantastic community and pastoral work in these days of pandemic. The thing that the faith community does uniquely is we are called to offer our world, our community, all people, and the church to God in prayer. As the church, if we do nothing else in these days, we should do what we always have done, and that is pray.
With one eye on a future opening up before us, I am in the process of writing a parish prayer for each of us to use every day going forward, so that we as individuals and as a church can voice the hopes of others and bring ourselves and the whole church into the loving presence of God.
As we live in this present 'winter' looking forward to 'Christmas' whenever it comes, in this inbetween time, please join me in living our call as the church - to pray, and especially to pray that that 'Christmas' does indeed come - in our own lives, the lives of our neighbours and friends, communities and world. For it is in praying and as a result of our prayer that we, our communities, church, and world are renewed in the love and fellowship of Aslan as C.S. Lewis calls him, Jesus our friend and brother.