Dear brothers and sistersI was asked recently what I most value about the local church, and if I could summarise that as a slogan for the side of a bus what would it say? My response was "Part of a family, sharing life, a place to belong". As a bit of lockdown fun, you might like to think about the same!
In this ongoing time of isolation, lockdown, separation and uncertainty, knowing without doubt that as the local church we are connected to God, part of the body of Christ, family with each other, and knowing without doubt that we belong, we are accepted, and that we are loved is so important. We all need to be reminded of this, particularly when connecting with our human families is so difficult.
Our way forward is to remember we are in this together - choosing to be vaccinated, choosing to follow the regulations, choosing to see ourselves as part of a bigger whole, choosing to recognise the needs of our neighbours: all of this is part of the commitment to be "in this together". I'm so thankful that this is part of our identity as Christians.
One way to show love to our neighbours is through recognising some of the social injustice we see in our parish, the food poverty, the way some people are really struggling as a result of Covid, and I continue to be so thankful for the team that run the Foodhub as well as all those who give donations each week.
Another way, as the PCC agreed again this week, to align ourselves with the message of lockdown, and so we will continue in February to worship on line only. This means that we will begin Lent in our individual ways, although on Ash Wednesday we will stream a service of Holy Communion, and there will be an act of Contemplative Worship - details of this to follow.
We will though have the opportunity to pilgrim together through a "Lent at home" resource, called "Lent in a bag". Each bag will contain 5 different reflections and resources for you to use each week in Lent. It's really simple and for you to use in your own way. If you would like one of these bags, please let me know. We can arrange delivery for those who are staying at home, otherwise they will be available to collect on Ash Wednesday morning from 10am, from a table outside of church: you may like to pass there as part of your daily exercise. You can use the resource individually, or you may like to use it as a family, pausing each week during Lent. There will be the opportunity, for those who would like to, to meet on zoom each week in Lent to reflect further, again more details to follow.
The thing I most value about the local church, our church, is simple. As Laura and I have been repeatedly saying, this is a time to keep things simple, as there is already so much so many of you are coping with. I, simply, continue to pray for you, to be thankful for you, and pray that you know we are all in this together, under God's love.
With every blessing, as ever