Thoughts from the vicarage 48

Good afternoon on another extremely blustery day,

I have delayed writing Thoughts this week due to waiting for further updates after the Government announced that public worship can happen from July 4th – that’s tomorrow! The advice and meat on the bones has now arrived and I thought it would be helpful to share a little information and some reflections.

The wardens of our three churches within the Benefice will be meeting next week to discuss how best to respond to the opportunity to gather for worship. We will be discussing what comes next as we emerge steadily and carefully from lockdown – we cannot be thinking about looking too far ahead, nor rushing into services.

My key thinking

Is around four principles around which we will develop plans:

  • worshipping together, gathering together is important
  • being able to receive the sacrament is important
  • worshipping in our buildings is important
  • worship being accessible to all is important

We need to take little steps and we want to make the right next step. We need to work out what’s needed to put in place to make things safe and as smooth as possible. I am concerned about worship and sacrament being accessible to all. We will then need to think through practicalities and of course the essential, ubiquitous risk assessments.

No query too small and all points of view welcome.

On tour, at Compline and at Morning Prayer I’ve had conversations with a number of people and if you have any thoughts, feelings, questions regarding the resumption of worship in our churches please do be in touch with me through the usual channels.

What has your week been like I wonder?

Here chez The Vicarage has seen the usual round of being on tour, opening the church, prayer and many pastoral encounters – not least of which has been with the school. And as I reflected upon exactly what I have achieved this week (!) I was reminded needless to say, by The Vicarage Gardener that, actually, quite a lot had been achieved!

Do you find some weeks are like that? There’s a lot to do and then, without notice there’s twice as many calls upon your time. My week has been a bit like that but it all began as planned with an exciting trip in the pouring rain to Eastbury to join in with cutting the weeds from the Lambourn. As I reported to James, village warden, I am not simply a fair weather cutter! Truth be known I didn’t go in, or cut weed and I didn’t rake any weed either. But thanks to James aka the ‘grim reaper’ I learnt a lot and am really looking forward to a go in the water. They probably won’t let me use the scythe though …

What are you missing I wonder? …

I am on record as missing school, simply being in school, around the staff and children, leading assembly or running our lunch club – such an innovation from January but rather short lived due to lockdown! It feels like an arm has been taken away. So it’s extra joy as the children wave and call out on their way to school. To see the children so relaxed in community and joining in with the church through the Vicar is delightful. We are all praying that it won’t be long until we can welcome classes back to their regular visits to church. Talking of which there is …

Good news from school

A new head teacher, Rachel Perkins has been appointed to Lambourn CE Primary school. Rachel is taking up her post from September and is hoping to get into school towards the end of term – which is very close now with their Leavers’ Assembly taking place on July 15th. She has already been working with staff, governors, children and families as a new mission statement is developed but Belinda church mouse is just reminding me not to say too much but more news will follow.

Lighting a candle…

Ao simple and yet so symbolic is something we all do at the beginning of each assembly and when the children come to church. They talk quite naturally of Jesus as being the light of the world – even in the darkest of situations and of how even in the worst moments there is a chink of light giving hope.

The use of candles in worship has a long history. Christians of all traditions and today, many others in our society increasingly welcome the beauty and stillness that a candle’s light can generate. It’s used as the focus for their time of quiet in assembly. Jesus’ words of of comfort, of consolation are ones in which we are able to find solace and hope. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. That reminds me of …

Bringing hope to the world in prayer … Last week on the Sunday prayer sheet we prayed for the children and families of The Yemen as Covid 19 threatens them following 5 years of war.

This Sunday’s prayer list includes the District Hospital in Khayelitsha, a township of Cape Town. Working on the assumption that it helps to know a little background when praying for situations outside our immediate vicinity you may like to know that with its own wards full, the Hospital is sending new cases across the road to a new facility, built, in the space of one month, in a sports hall, and run by Médecins Sans Frontières – an organisation that has been a familiar presence in the neighbourhood for 20 years, focusing on the battle against HIV/Aids.

“Already this is spreading like wildfire,” said Eric Goemaere, a Belgian MSF Doctor who has spent many years in Khayelitsha. “We are having to take some tough decisions. There’s no point sending the extremely sick cases back to the referral hospital because they don’t have the staff or the equipment. The hospitals in this region cannot cope,” he said. Instead, the most severe cases are left, almost certainly to die, in a palliative care section in the corner of the sports hall, while the precious supplies of oxygen are reserved for those perceived to have a better chance of recovery. Lord have mercy.

And Finally …

A candle cannot light itself, it needs to receive light from another. Thank God for the light that Jesus brings to us and the light we can pass on, through prayer to those in Khayelitsha.

God bless

Julie

Lambourn Valley Benefice Prayer List July 5th