Monday, 9 November 2020

Lockdown - A Time to Pray and Grow

I hope you are managing to stay well, especially as we move into a second national lockdown. The aim of this period of four weeks, according to the Prime Minister, is to try to ensure that COVID-19 does not completely overwhelm the NHS's ability to cope this winter. My hope and prayer is that we will follow the renewed call to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.

This feels like a pretty grim necessity as Autumn moves to the darker days of Winter. St John's Gospel reminds us that the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Christ calls us to be individuals and communities of light and hope and there are a number of ways that I'd like to call you particularly to play a part:

1. Prayer.
The Archbishops and our Diocesan Bishop have called us to prayer. Please will you commit yourselves to joining me in prayer for our neighbourhoods and nation? I'd like us to join together across the parish to do this in a number of ways

- Praying our parish prayer, (the words of which I have enclosed at the bottom) at either or all of 9am, midday, and 9pm every day. The words of the prayer are simple but express much hope.
- Setting aside Thursdays as a weekly day to fast and pray for those driving healthcare policy, the NHS, local government etc. Just as many of us gathered on Thursdays to 'clap for carers' in the first lockdown to show our gratitude to those serving on the frontline of containing the impact of the pandemic, so we as church can do something more meaningful during this second lockdown and pray for the presence and leading of God for those in the frontline of containing the pandemic. I will endevour to share whatever resources I can to feed our prayer on Thursdays on Facebook and the Parish website.
- Stir Up Sunday - 22/11/20 - Bishop Alan is calling on us all to spend a focussed time of prayer on 22nd and 23rd November, asking God to stir up the fruits of the Spirit in the ministry and work of the church in these days. Resources to fuel our prayer will be availabe on the hour on social media and at www.stalbans.anhlican.org. More details to follow.

2. Renewing our Faith.
As part of the ways to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Government has called for the suspending of all public worship across faith communities. This means that our worshipping life will change. As of Sunday 15th November our pattern of worship will look like this:

Sundays - 10am Parish Eucharist on Zoom
Mondays - 8.30am Morning prayer on zoom
9.30am Said Eucharist on Facebook
4.00pm Evening Prayer on zoom
Tuesdays - 8.30am Morning prayer on zoom
4.00pm Evening Prayer on zoom
Wednesdays - 8.30am Morning prayer on zoom
12Noon Said Eucharist on Facebook
4.00pm Evening Prayer on zoom
Thursdays - 8.30am Morning prayer on zoom
9.30am Said Eucharist on Facebook
4.00pm Evening Prayer on zoom
Fridays - 11.00am Service of the Word on Facebook

Please do join (contact me directly for the details.) If you would be willing to read or lead intercessions on a Sunday please do get in touch. We will endevour to make available some prayer resources available in a printed format for those who don't have access to the internet.

During the first lockdown in the Spring we mobilised a group to stay in touch with all of you and make sure you are all doing as well as can be expected, and to offer to support and prayer. This group will resume it's ministry more actively in the coming days. I hope that you feel held by the invaluable ministry of this group as we seek to hold together as as community in these days.

Can I also encourage you to use the weeks of lockdown to ready yourselves for Christmas? There are two online retreats that I'd like to commend to you:

Wait and Hope - A free family advent retreat - 05/12/20 - 10.30am-12.30noon. Further details are here plus information on how to book: https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/event/wait-and-hope-yac/

An Advent Retreat with Poetry and Music - 28/11/20 - 10.00am-1.00pm.
Further details are here please information on how to book:
https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/advent-retreat

Reading the Bible Together - 16/11/20 - 7.30pm
The hope is that as we read scripture together and talk about it, our faith would be strengthened and our understanding deepned. We will meet on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82951109506?pwd=emlZL3llNWNuSHlITU8vNEdybmt1dz09 Meeting ID: 829 5110 9506 Passcode: 494575). We will be reading 2 passages of scripture together - Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13:24-end. You can download them here: https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=469759430. It would be wonderful to see you but could you let me know if you are going to join us.

We are laying some plans for a Community Online Advent Calnedar and an online Christingle service for the parish in early December and some contemplative and thoughtful Advent evening worship. More details in due course. Plans are also prayerfully being made for our worship at Christmas which will be unusual and memorable this year. Please pray for those planning.

I know that there is much to digest here but I hope that you will see the resources as opportunities and blessing in these days.

~~~

Loving God,


You are with us in good times and in bad,

in health and in sickness, in light and in darkness;

be with us through the difficulties of this pandemic

and as we look to the future.


May we hear your voice guiding us,

May we know your Spirit inspiring us,

May we feel your strength upholding us.


Show us how to act on what you have taught us through this time,

that our ministry and mission may reveal your love to all we meet.


We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.



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