Vicar/Reader's Monthly Message
I never expected to be writing this letter in November. I was planning to write on the Shroud of Turin and Easter. Instead, you have the sad news of public worship services being suspended until further notice due to the pandemic of the coronavirus.
I had written a letter but now I’ve had to change it before printing due to further restrictions. On Monday 24th March our Prime Minister unprecedently closed the church and now we cannot even open the doors of the church for private prayer. I never foresaw the time when I would be required to turn people away from a funeral because they were not immediate family members.
This has all been really upsetting for us all and it was lonely from the initial announcement, doing services in church without you all there. You were missed and equally, I know you are missing being at church and the groups of which you are involved. The cards made for Mothering Sunday were posted through letterboxes in the community.
Our country has been given guidelines in which to act during a pandemic, those guidelines are there to keep us safe no matter how disruptive and inconvenient they are and some I’ll admit, seem unfair. This is especially where the church is concerned. There were less than five people in safety at any one time during private prayer, than in a crematorium. Thirty people were allowed in attendance which changed to 10 only this week. However, it is as it is and this is a beastly virus and only together in prayer and safety will it be beaten.
This is a strange time for all and people are feeling fearful and uncertain and have been unnecessarily bulk buying. As many are missing family members in the flesh, technology now being all the more important. At the same time, people are being creative and want to pull together and help. All this has been fantastic to witness and hear about and shows God’s love in action. Good is coming out of this and will continue to. The sky for one will have far less pollution. People are realising there really are no borders, only the ones we invent; we really are all interconnected and many more.
Through this time, we are still called to be church, although in a different way. Keep contact with each other, especially with those who are more vulnerable and isolated. We are trying to gain everyone’s email and telephone number, in order to make sure everyone is kept in contact with, by working within pastoral groups. Maybe there is someone who cannot get out for food or medication that we can help or maybe there is someone who lives on your street which needs help. Albion street have a What’s App going, in case anyone needs anything. It took a person to put a letter through each door inviting them to join the app.
We have worked with New Brighton Primary School and Wirral foodbank to supply food for needy families.
I do Morning Prayer at 10am and Evening Prayer at 7pm which gives me a focused time of prayer as well as arrow prayers during the day. In your own homes, why not join in with me during those focused times of praying for each other, our parish, the country and our world. We have printed a simple form of Morning and Evening prayer for you. There are also resources on our parish website. It doesn’t matter what you prefer to use as long as we keep praying. I also use the parish Facebook page to keep in touch. St James with Emmanuel church, New Brighton. If you’re not on Facebook and don’t wish to be, you can still access the page from Google to check. Over the next weeks, I will try and overcome limitations and my comfort zones to put some videos together. A number of funerals have taken precedent plus dealing with changing guidance and increased communication behind the scenes.
A friend of mine who was once very ill was reminded that God takes care of the sparrows and the hairs of our heads are numbered. We are loved and cared for by God who asks us to pray about all things. The eternal God is our refuge.
Try and read Ps91, this is a part of it:- Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
We are not always immune from physical illness but we are ever guarded from destructive spiritual forces when we dwell with the Most High. As we go forward into tough times, we can trust God and can have confidence that he can bring good out what’s intended for harm like he did with Joseph in the Old Testament.
Let’s be praying for this as well as for everyone and when we come back to church, as came from the mouth of Emmanuel’s churchwarden David Worgan, last week, we can celebrate that the stone has rolled away and Christ is indeed risen.
Rev Heather Atkinson