Well, here we are, in a place I never thought we would be. Good afternoon to all our readers on this beautiful sunny afternoon in The Lambourn Valley.
This is the first of Thoughts from the Vicarage and I am really keen that this turns into a conversation and not a monologue (or a duologue, says husband Keith) so tell me what is working.
Guidance from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York means that Public Worship, and other gatherings are suspended until further notice. These precautions are taken because of our responsibility to love our neighbours and not to contribute in any way to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. The good news is that . . .
Our Churches are open for reflection, peace, quiet and prayer.
A big thank you to all those who are making this happen!
This means we have a holy space for all people to rest, think, reflect and pray in, whilst still keeping their distance. I am putting dates in my diary when I will come to Eastbury and East Garston during the weeks to come and be there for prayer and for people who feel the need of their priest at this time – social distancing of course!
St Michael & All Angels is open seven days a week from 8.30 through to dusk.
St James The Greater Eastbury is also open from dawn to duck each day.
All Saints East Garston is open as normal on Saturdays plus 10 – 4 every day.
This will be led tomorrow by Bishop Stephen at 10am and will be live streamed from our Cathedral. You will be able to join in using the beautiful booklet of liturgy to follow. This is attached to this email.
The Church has always been the people. We happen to have lovely buildings in the centre of Lambourn, Eastbury and East Garston but the Church has always been the people. The Church started as the disciples and has always been as strong as its people ever since. We will miss gathering to worship together very much, of course- but we are still the Church and we are the Church where we belong- in the midst of the world and our communities.
Whether you are a person of faith or of none – let’s live hopefully, love generously and pray earnestly, blessing each other by the way we behave.
Stay calm and let those who are in high-risk groups or self-isolating know that you care for them. Phone calls, messages, letters, cards, food left on the doorstep are all signs of us being community together. If you are self-isolating, please can you let me 07749 844 600 know, so that we can check in with you and offer you support. Please keep checking in with each other. If you are worried about anyone, or know that anyone else is worried, then check in with them.
And finally . . .
Something someone said to me planted the seed of a thought- that out of this whole grim experience might come something positive because now we will all understand what it is to be lonely and isolated, now we will all understand what it is to be shut away and without a voice and what it is to depend on the kindness of others.
We are all being given the opportunity to think about true hospitality and part of that is learning to accept kindness and invitation as well as hold it out. Perhaps it might be our prayer that we remember this, once things eventually return to a form of normal and do not forget the things we have learnt through bitter experience.
The world has shifted and is still in flux- but we are still here, and still together, and still serving, and still loved by God. “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are going to get through this together, we absolutely are. Lean on each other. Call each other. Treasure each other, meanwhile,
God bless, strengthen and comfort you in this strange new world in which we find ourselves.
And really finally . . .
I have loads of ideas of what to use this email for but the key thing to announce today is that, after a lengthy interview process, Belinda the Churchmouse has been appointed as a regular correspondent who will potter round with her ear to the ground and her nose in the air (she is very flexible for a mouse) gathering all of the latest news.
If you find anything really helpful, supportive or encouraging, or something really great happens please do let us know!
She’s already told me that the Co-op is having a dedicated shopping time for over 75s from 9.30 – 10.30 each day for the next 12 weeks – spread the news!