Good afternoon everyone,
Back at The Vicarage …
Things are well here in The Vicarage – safely back at the study desk already wondering about where all of the time goes during the day. I love receiving cheery hellos when out on the daily walk, popping around the villages, up at school or at the Lambourn Junction. And it’s absolutely super to receive your emails, calls and notes.
Taking stock, themes of hope and promise, and gratitude within the ‘new normal’.
Our week ‘away’ has given me time to take stock a bit. The themes of hope and promise continue to be in evidence all around us as we look out of our windows into creation, as we walk through the woods, across the fields or simply reflect upon the love of God as we pray. And there is that great sense of gratitude which prevails despite everything. I sense it in the tone of voices when people respond with a ‘we’re fine thank you’ or a ‘can’t grumble’ and a ‘still managing thank you’. I hear it in the voices of those who cannot and must not go out – who are truly isolated.
My Brazilian daughter in law, Ana, uses the ‘we’re all good’ … whilst sitting in their flat when they’re meant to be spending 3 weeks holiday in Australia with my grandchildren, their god children, while her family, our extended family in Recife Brazil are so acutely aware of the paucity of medical support should they become unwell. Like so many at this time she is carrying all that concern, care and distress – and yet, this is the ‘new normal’.
The new normal …
In a nutshell this is the new normal for the majority of us. It’s the family who’ve lost a loved one understanding that despite their grief we cannot gather as we once would have done at their beloved’s funeral, it’s waiting at home while a loved one undergoes surgery on their own, it’s praying that this time may pass …
So I want to say that … you are not alone …
If you are feeling more isolated than you would like to be then please let us know and we will make sure people are in touch with you more regularly.
If you need practical support than there is a lot of local stuff available in each of our communities. Volunteers are doing a superb job of dropping round encouraging parcels and shopping.
If you notice someone needs a bit of a lift let them know that you are thinking of them.
And if you have any suggestions or good ideas for what we could do over the next weeks, then please let us know. In this new normal you might like to start a reading group, a bible study or dwelling in the word, join in Morning Prayer and/or Compline.
On a practical level …
I have found two ways of using a telephone to help people join in with a service when they don’t have internet access- do please let people all about them, especially those who don’t use the internet.
The first is offered by Oxford Diocese.
The stream of as-live Diocesan worship continues on Sundays and Holy Days to support what is being done locally.
From this week it is also available to people dialling in by phone as well. The number to dial each week is 01865 920930 and you press zero for the short service and 1 for the full Church at Home service. It takes a few seconds to retrieve the recording, then the service will start.
The second telephone service is from The Church of England and is called Daily Hope: Daily Hope is available on 0800 804 8044 and is proving to be very popular.
Belinda church mouse
has just scampered in via the Vicarage gates to say that the Prayer booklets are going like hot cheese on toast – I think she means hot cakes!!
She’s very pleased to say that there are free booklets for you to pick up from the Vicarage gate as you go by on your daily exercise – do take one or two for yourself or pass one onto friends. ‘Prayers for use during the coronavirus outbreak’ is a really useful and very handy little booklet offering a range of prayers for your personal use, for children and simple morning and night prayer.
And please do keep praying… for those who are sick or frightened, for those finding isolation especially difficult, for those who are having to rearrange a wedding or a baptism, for those who are discovering that funerals look very different at the moment with only immediate family able to attend, for those undertakers who have been under much pressure, for those who are at work keeping vital services going and for all those within our NHS, for the risks we are asking them to take on our behalf.
And finally …
I leave you today with the Pandemic Beatitudes to guide your prayers. And, wherever you are do keep in touch with another, ask for a hand if you need one, and however you are feeling please be assured that you remain in our thoughts and prayers, meanwhile, God bless you and all for whom you pray,