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.