Thoughts from the Vicarage 45

Good morning friends of the Valley

Psalm 122:1 I was glad …


When they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord. St Michael & All Angels was prayed open on Monday for private prayer. It was a great joy as Christine, myself and Keith entered into the church at the centre of our village, lit candles and settled to pray. Many thanks to all those who have volunteered to be on the rota for opening, closing and cleaning. The church will be open each day for private prayer and all are welcome. I will continue to be in church from 9.00 – 11.00 this week (not Thursday, tomorrow, as it is my rest day when Christine will be opening).  Signage will inform you about where to sit and the direction of travel. Please note that the toilet facility is closed.

In each of our Valley churches all are welcome, those of all faiths or none. Thanks to all those supporting the re-opening of our village churches – it is much appreciated. Sitting in St Michael’s this morning prayers were offered for each village, for every person who has requested prayer, for each person on the Benefice prayer list.

The Vicar is still on tour …

I realise that for some people the opening of our churches will have a slightly bitter sweet feeling as a number of friends are still self-isolating due to medical conditions. Please be assured that you are in our prayers and we continue to think of you. Nest week we will continue the same pattern:

  • Monday June 29th All Saints East Garston 2.30 – 3.30
  • Tuesday June 30th St James The Greater Eastbury 2.30 – 3.30
  • Wednesday July 1st St Michael & All Angels 2.30 – 3.30

Sunday morning worship …

Was once again appreciated and Will Lamb’s address was much appreciated as we chatted over coffee. If you would like to watch it again here is the link:
https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19-2/livestream/

The Lambourn Valley Benefice website …

has been blossoming throughout the lock down thanks to Alistair Mills who has uploaded just about everything there is to upload! Not only will you find links to each of these letters but many other links which I have shared during this time:

https://lambourn-valley-benefice.website/

You will also be able to access the introduction to the re-opening of St Michaels, previously only on Facebook; apart from myself, it features the brand-new lighting which makes such a difference to the church. The Norman arches are lifted up and illuminate in a sympathetic white light. Seriously, film maker Keith aka The Vicarage Gardener films the church in its lockdown layout so people are able to see what to expect as well as sharing for those who are unable to get out and about at the moment. If you are in that category, please rest assured that you too are held in prayer each day. You are not forgotten.

Which leads me to think about … The Announcement

The one that came yesterday relating to the opening of a great deal of other businesses including restaurants, pubs and holiday accommodation in addition to the fact that church services may be held from July 4th and weddings may now take place with a maximum of 30 people. This excited Belinda church mouse who is on the look out for crumbs and bewailing the fact that church may be open for private prayer – which is great she says. But she is missing coffee and cake!! Which reminds me.

Did you notice?

After the announcement yesterday regarding church services we listened very carefully… that’s Belinda church mouse, The Vicarage Gardener and myself to the BBC 6 o’clock news and apart from weddings that was that. No mention of services … Slightly disappointed we put on our thinking hats and thought about whatever next? Of course Diocesan advice will follow and we will all need to be patient as we wait for it.

What next?

This is a good question and one which means that we are looking ahead to another ‘new normal’ both in wider society and in relation to worship in The Valley. In itself this may for some – exacerbate our concerns and levels of anxiety while for others it will give a lift as we look ahead and put plans into action. We are all at different places in this emerging from lockdown. For that reason, I’m writing to let you know that for the churches of the Valley this will be a gentle process with small beginnings. We will not be rushing into holding services – despite my enthusiasm for sharing the Sacrament and great desire to gather together to worship God in our churches!

It is unlikely that emerging from the coronavirus lockdown will be the same in every corner of our nation, and the same is probably going to be the case as we begin to hold services in each of the churches. One thing will be constant – as disciples of Christ we will continue to be joined in prayer and fellowship with our fellow sisters and brothers not only in The Valley but throughout the world.

The offices of Morning Prayer and Compline will continue via Zoom for the foreseeable future. The move to the office of Morning Prayer returning to church is one small step and others will follow. If you would like to join either please just ask and I’ll send you the link.

Review of our Benefice Prayer List …

Thank you very much to those who have made contact about next month’s prayer list which will be revised as was our usual custom prior to Covid-19. This means starting a new prayer list so please let me know if you would like to add a name for prayer or if you would like prayers continued for a person at present on the list. Many thanks.

And finally … how are you today? …

A couple of our readers found the last Have a Go habit really helpful – thank you for reporting back. Today I’m thinking especially of prayer in isolation. Self-isolation is much talked about as a way of protecting ourselves, and one another, from coronavirus. Even for those of us who like solitude, this can be too much of a good thing. For others, the thought of being cut off from others for a long time is little short of soul-destroying. Isolation can be a cause of anxiety, fear and depression. So here are another few ideas to have a go with.

  • There are different ways in which people experience isolation: socially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Who do you know who is isolated in these ways? Remember them (in thought or prayer) each day, as an affirmation that they – and you – are not alone.
  • Use the internet to find out about the plight of Christians, and other religious minorities, around the world who are isolated because of their faith. Whether in prayer, giving, or writing letters and e-mails, be “with” them.
  • We are fortunate in the 21st century. With phones, tablets, and the internet, we can break barriers that would previously have been insurmountable. Can you reach out and have a conversation with someone who may struggle on their own today?

I know (trust me!) it’s easy to say, “You are not alone; God is with you.” Isolation is not really, or only, about how many other people are in the room or house with us. It has more to do with who is in our hearts and minds, and how we may reach beyond the confines of rooms and homes to connect with those we love … food for thought and prayer.

Julie