Monday, 30 March 2020

Mental Wellbeing and COVID -19


The Church of England has produced an excellent resource for us to be aware of our mental health in these days of social isolation.

You can find the resource to download here and it's also available in the resources section of this site.

Mass - Monday 30th March

Saturday, 28 March 2020

As we stand on the cusp of Passiontide...



I wonder how you are in these strange days? I wonder how you are ensuring you keep yourself healthy mentally and physically?

By now you hopefully will have had contact with members of our new Pastoral Network. If not, I know you will be in the coming days. I am confident that this will be an important way we keep up with one another as communities as we are dispersed to our homes.

I have also established a private Facebook group called Parish Prayers which I hope we will treat this as a place where we can pray for each other in lieu of a sick list on the pew sheet each week. You can find the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1487445011430424. I know that not all of us are on Facebook or will want to be, but for those of us who are, I hope it will be a place of prayer for us to support and encourage each other.

You will find two resources that you might find helpful going forward under the 'Resources for use during the COVID-19 outbreak' tab. There is a resource to aid your worship at home in Holy Week. You can use this from Palm Sunday onwards alongside the Spiritual Communion liturgy you already have in the Lent booklet you have received.

Secondly, you'll find a sheet of readings for Morning and Evening prayer for the next fortnight. I hope these will sustain you as you engage with the scriptures.

I have updated the parish website with a dedicated page of resources for us to use as a dispersed church community. This will be updated as regularly as I can. You can find the page here: https://www.theparishofmillendandheronsgatewithwesthyde.org…

Lastly a couple of practical things: firstly, please remember that the clocks for forward tonight; and, secondly, please find enclosed a link to a video message from the Bishop of St Albans which I hope you will find encouraging as we move into this most holy time for us as Christians. You can watch his message here: https://twitter.com/BishopStAlb…/status/1243886371057664003…

Please be assured of my love and prayer for you, and for God's blessing on us this Passiontide.

Fr Simon.

Said Mass - 28/3/20

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Bible Reflection: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)

I found this Bible Study remarkable and contextually relevant in these days. I am so grateful to the Bishop of Liverpool for sharing these hopeful words.



Monday, 23 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister's Statement

Following the Prime Minister's statement this evening, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and all of our Bishops have released the following joint statement:

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have urged everyone to follow the instructions given by the Prime Minister to stay in their homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19). But they called on the Church to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”.

It follows the announcement by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sweeping restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

It means all Church of England churches will close with immediate effect in line with the Government’s instructions. There will also be no Church weddings or baptisms.

Funerals at the graveside or in crematoriums can still take place, but only in line with the Prime minister’s Statement.

In a joint statement the bishops said: “In the light of the Government’s measures, announced by the Prime Minister this evening, we urge everyone to follow the instructions given.

“We will give a fuller statement of advice as soon as possible. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.”

This will be difficult news for all of us to hear.

I will be in touch with you again in a day or so with fuller details about how a team of us will be in checking in with you over the weeks to come.

For now, please join me and Sam and our Wardens and Readers in following this advice; to committing ourselves to acts of loving service to our neighbours where we can; and to praying for hope - for each other, our neighbourhoods, our nation and our world at challenging time.

Fr Simon

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Day of Prayer


The Archbishops have called on the church to keep 22/3 as a day of prayer and action for our nation and her people in these days as COVID-19 makes its home amongst us.

We keep a day to pray as a dispersed community in our homes and wherever we are. We will offer the anxiety to the God of hope. We will offer our fear to the God of who loves us all. We will pray for the sick and our healthcare professions to the God of wholeness and peace.

The order of the day looks like this

8.45am Morning Prayer
9.30am Mass (please us the Act of Spiritual Communion)
12noon Prayer during the Day
5.00pm Evening Prayer
7.00pm Light a Candle - place a lit candle in your window as part of a Wave of Light and Hope.
9.00pm Compline (Night Prayer)


Resources for the day can be found here.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Prayer and Pastoral Care

Last night the PCC met for the last time for a while because of our current circumstances. One of the results of that meeting is that I am confident that we have robust systems in place to ensure the continuity of ministry going forward in these strange days.

When I wrote to you last I mentioned that I wanted to ensure that we had good systems of pastoral care in place. Whilst we cannot replicate the community we become gathered around Christ's table, there are several things that I'd like you to know about that will help us keep and build community as a church and with others at this time.


Firstly, I am in the process of drawing a team together consisting of members of the Ministry Team, Wardens and others. Together we are going to take on keeping in contact with you by phone. One of the members of this pastoral team will call you every few days to see how you are faring and to see if there are any practical things that need doing and any prayer requests that you have. This information will be confidentially shared to provide the support you need if we can and to pray for you. If you feel you could give some time to this important ministry, could you call or text me on my mobile.

In relation to pastoral care, could I remind you of the cards that I mentioned then I wrote to you last. If you are well and not self-isolating you will find a stack of these cards in each church building. Please take one and fill in your name and your contact details and tick what you can offer to support a near neighbour and drop it through their door. Jesus said, 'love your neighbour as you love yourself.' As a Christian community, the Body of Christ in our communities, it is more vital than ever that the moment to show love and care against the current backdrop of fear and anxiety.

Secondly, it will feel very strange for us not being able to gather for worship. We often talk of church as somewhere we go or something to which we belong. In these days we need to rediscover that we are the church.

Being church is about loving our neighbour, but it is also being a praying people. Many within our communities are anxious and fearful for the present and the future. As Christians, our vocation is to bring these people, their anxieties and fears and ourselves to the God who loves us so much.


Over the next few days we will be sharing with you a range of resources to enable you to worship God at home and to pray. You will find a couple of other good resources here and here. Some of these reasources will also be available in our churches. You could also check out this regularly updated page

Other resources for families to use together will be made available in a couple of days on our website (www.theparishofmillendandheronsgatewithwesthyde.org) and our parish Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParishofMillEnd) both of which will be worth checking in the days ahead.

I'd like all of us to become people of prayer in these days, taking that vocation seriously, and offer our communities to the God who loves us.

The Archbishops have asked the church to keep this coming Sunday (22 March) as a Day of Prayer. Elaine will be sending you tomorrow resources to enable you to share in the prayer and worship of the day, the timings of which look like this:
8.45am Morning Prayer
9.30am Said Eucharist (please use the Spiritual Communion liturgy)
12noon Prayer During the Day
5.00pm Evening Prayer
9.00pm Compline (Night Prayer)
I look forward to sharing in this worship with you.


Thirdly, all three of our church buildings are open every day in daylight hours as places of sanctuary, peace, and prayer. Please feel free to spend time in them in the days and weeks that lie ahead.

Fourthly, there will be some of you who are not self-isolating and well currently. If you are and would like to find other ways of loving others, the Primary Schools we work most closely with - St Peter's School and Maple Cross School - will be remaining open in a very pared-down way. The teaching staff who are continuing to work will need support which might mean doing craft, project work, and reading with children for example. If you are able to play a part in that please contact me directly. Similarly, we are looking to partner with the Rickmansworth Foodbank in in work such as distributing food parcels to self-isolating people in need in our communities. There are bound to be other ways to serve others. I am looking for people willing to give a little time to love and support others in practical ways. Please be in touch.

These are dark and disorienting days indeed, but I am confident that we as the church, alongside many others, can bring a little light to the communities we are called to serve.
Today is the Feast of St Joseph. I was deeply moved by the prayer of blessing that I prayed at the end of the Eucharist this morning. I enclose it here to bless you as you read this, but I encourage you to pray it, blessing yourselves, your families and friends and our community that Christ loves.

May the love of the Holy Family surround us.
May the joy that was Mary’s refresh us.
May the faithfulness that was Joseph’s encourage us.
May the peace of the Christ-child fill our lives.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Pastoral Letter - 17/3/20

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With a heavy heart, today's guidance from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, leaves me with no alternative but to announce that all Public Worship, home groups, lent study activities and other social gatherings organised by the parish - are hereby suspended until further notice.

Where possible our church buildings will remain open during daylight hours to hold a holy space for people to rest, think, reflect and pray in.

As the Archbishops have wisely said, these precautions are taken because of our responsibility to love our neighbours (not to contribute in any way to the spreading of the COVID-19 corona virus). It does not mean, however, that we stop being ‘The church'. Rather, we are invited to experiment - and be creative - with praying, worshipping and serving differently.

Going forward, Sam and I will be meeting to say Morning Prayer and the Eucharist every day for as long as we can in accordance with the new guidelines. We will make sure those details are made available to you to so you can join us in prayer at home.

In the next 24 hours or so we will make available some extensive resources to enable you to sustain your prayer life at home. We will also share craft activities following the Sunday lectionary to enable children and families to continue to explore their faith in the days ahead. There will also be resources to be used in the lead up to Passiontide, Holy Week and the season of Easter. For now, you can find a link to the Church of England's liturgy for Morning and Evening Prayer here: https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

Our overall aim will be to offer support to those who need it, and the opportunity to continue connecting with God through the ministry of the church throughout the coming crisis. I will be updating details as they arise or change.

Please do contact me or Sam, our Readers and Wardens if there are things we can do or organise to support you if possible. We will be working to draw together a wider group of people to keep in touch with you all in the coming days.

Please also take note of the cards that have been printed for you to distribute to neighbours in need offering practical support. These will be available in our church buildings. Please fill the card with what you are prepared to offer in terms of help, but only offer if you are not at risk yourself.

This coming Sunday I invite you to join me in a Day of Prayer and Action for all those who are ill, fearful, socially-isolated and their families and friends and all healthcare workers, and at 7pm to place a lit candle safely in your window as an act of solidarity and love. Full details of this will be available in the comings days

Please join me in praying regularly for all who may feel anxious at this time and all of our healthcare professionals.


With love and every blessing through this unprecedented time,

Simon

Vicar of the Parish of Mill End and Heronsgate with West Hyde.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID 19) Advice

This afternoon Bishop Alan contacted all clergy and wardens with the following advice affective immediate:

"...I am writing to let you know that the Church of England's advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19) has been updated this afternoon, Tuesday 10/3/2020.

The updated advice, from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York includes these points:

 .....It is our view, in light of the continued increase of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom, that it is now necessary to suspend the administration of the chalice as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace, blessing or "laying on of hands". 

We therefore advise that all priests should:- 

•Offer Communion in one kind only to all communicants i.e. the consecrated bread/wafer/host, with the priest alone taking the wine;
•suspend handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace;
•suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’..."