Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I guess after the weekend of pictures on the TV and in papers of all the large gatherings and people going to holiday homes, hotels and b&b's offering isolation specials, the inevitable has happened, we are now on lockdown.
Our churches have been shut even for prayer. Weddings and baptisms must be cancelled and families who have lost loved ones are being told close families only to the funeral and not to be held in church. This will be so sad for many people.
It’s a very sorry state but one we can overcome, one that can and will transform many of us not just for now but for life. People will be transformed in the way they live and think, the way they feel about others, the way they interact with others. Families will be changed and so will friendships.
My overriding prayer is this horrible situation will make us all better people. We will continue to making mistakes just as many did this weekend. We will continue to get it wrong but maybe, just maybe, more of us will start to think about others before ourselves. And that includes me. It's taken me a long time to get behind the government and what they are doing. Like many people I was convinced they were going over the top with all these precautions. I was sure it would just pass over and the government would be left with egg on their faces, how wrong was I and I know some people still felt and still feel this way.
But till this is all over where do we as a church go from here? Well I believe good can come out of all adversity and in this time of lockdown we have a chance to be transformed and grow to become the people God wanted us to be in the first place. We have a chance of growing closer to God because our prayer time will be more personal and more focused than ever before. We will have an opportunity to spend more time than ever talking and more importantly listening to God. We will have more time than ever to put our lives completely in his hands in ways we have never done before and for many of us it will be a time of reflection and thinking of what the future holds for us, and for many that could be something you have never thought or dreamed of. But God is in control if only we allow him to be, we can and will transform us.
The building may be shut but the church is still alive and kicking. We may not be meeting in a building, but we are meeting in hearts and minds. We will continue to pray for our community and we will still be there for our friends and neighbours. Even if we can’t physically help, we can pray for everyone and if they need help, we can find someone to help them. In the next couple of days, we will be posting on our website and Facebook pages, phone numbers and email address of people who will be there to help, not just church members but the whole of our community. And my email and phone number below can be passed on to anyone who needs them.
We will also be letting you know how we can still be a church without walls even in our isolation. We are still waiting for confirmation from Bishop Nick on how the latest news will affect home communions and I will update you as soon as I know.
Wednesday morning at 7am I will be saying morning prayer in my office and everyone will be invited to join me from the comfort of their own homes. Thursday evening on the first and third evening of the month Jackie will be saying evening prayer at 7.30pm, and on the second and fourth Thursday Stuart will be leading evening prayer.
We will try and get a thought for the day put online on Wednesday and Thursday as well as Sunday. We will publish the morning prayer and evening prayer service on the web, and I will email copies to everyone, and as part of the daily exercise I will be dropping hard copies to those not online. This delivery service will become a big part of my exercise regime! I will also be publishing the Bible reading we will be using on Wednesday Thursday and Sunday.
Can I once again recommend even more so now we are locked down that if you are not already reading the Bible fellowship daily notes that you contact email@example.com. You will find them an amazing help at this time.
Yours in Christ
firstname.lastname@example.org 01274 560761