Church of England Diocese of London Christ and St. John with St. Luke, Isle Of Dogs

Fr Tom shares encouraging news

26 Mar 2020, midnight

This is a fast-developing situation, and just as soon as we settled into one pattern of worship we have had to change it again. As of yesterday evening we were told by HM Government that places of worship had to close, and all gathering of people should stop. Effectively we are on 'lock-down'. This means that the early morning BCP service and Evening Prayer can happen, but thy need to go online. This is not a big change, and we can easily adapt to this. My earlier comments about the Church in the Roman catacombs begin to tell - we have to become an Underground Church, but not a defeated one (the photo I have chosen for these updates is from the Catacombs in Rome)

I am sharing with you a refreshed pattern of prayer and worship which I hope you will find has something for you, and something that will strengthen and bolster your faith.

First of all, last Sunday we were encouraged to light a candle in our windows at 7pm and to say a prayer. I would like to invite you to do this every evening from 7pm - 8pm throughout the crisis as a sign of hope for your neighbours. Even better if you ring them and let them in on why you are doing this. Better still, get them to do the same and share the prayer with them. I would suggest this from the Church of England website:

We are not people of fear:

we are people of courage.

We are not people who protect our own safety:

we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.

We are not people of greed:

we are people of generosity.

We are your people God,

giving and loving,

wherever we are,

whatever it costs

For as long as it takes

wherever you call us.

Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

and this from Pope Francis:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of good health and peace that we have enjoyed for so many years. As we find ourselves in this time of crisis today, we ask for your divine intervention and mercy to be upon each of us.

Come and guide the minds of those working to discover a treatment to the COVID-19 virus. Grant them wisdom, knowledge, and clarity of mind, so that all peoples will be free from the threat of this ailment.

We also pray for the healthcare workers that are standing in the front line of this battle. Father, we thank you for their hearts of service, putting the needs of society before their own, generously responding to the cry of Your people. We ask that You will grant them strength and protection. As they give of themselves in selfless service, may You fill them with your Holy Spirit as they work to be Your healing hands and feet!

Father, we also surrender to You all those who have been afflicted with the virus. Grant them Your healing grace, merciful Father, so that they may recover swiftly and continue to be witnesses of Your love in their lives.

Mother Mary, we ask for your intercession in this great time of need. Cover each of us with your blue mantle of protection, so that we may be preserved in good health to continue to glorify your son, Jesus Christ. We make this prayer through Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.

Amen.

Last Sunday we published readings, prayers and an address as a podcast for you to listen to at your leisure. It's on the homepage of our website for you to enjoy. We will do one of these each Sunday. Last Sunday our podcast was listened to by three times as many people as we usually have in church - God is powerfully using these times to speak to us. We are very lucky to have our Director of Music, Dennis Tjiok, working on this project. He has a fizzing inventive mind, and we are enjoying working with him. We are already thinking about Holy Week and Easter - on Good Friday several guest preachers will be preparing podcasts. Some of them are familiar voices, one will be the voice of your future Curate, Tracy Browne.

We are keen to meet as a congregation in a way that we can safely. We are going to use an online teleconferencing platform to do this, Google Meet. You will be able to login to this, on a tablet, computer or smartphone, or to ring in from your own phone. The address or phone no. to go to is below

Christ Church Gathering and Prayers

Sunday, 29 March⋅10:45 – 11:30pm

Weekly on Sunday

Join Hangouts Meet

meet.google.com/gbz-hvmc-puh

Join by phone ‪+44 20 3957 1200‬ PIN: ‪154 396 117‬#

By this means you'll be present, in the sight of God, among your friends. We'll share a reading, a prayer and possibly some music. Why not light a candle in the room you are joining us from?

It's really important that we give everyone the chance to be 'there'. Please share the phone number and the PIN with anyone who you know would like to join in worship. My hope to be able to include people by a printed version is probably not a goer (distribution is the issue now that we must restrict movement). We need everyone at that online gathering, on their computer, or by phone, for everyone to feel included.

Morning and evening prayer will be available to join in with on the Website as YouTube videos. So will celebrations of the Mass and there will be one of those tomorrow for the Feast of the Annunciation.

I am keen to keep us learning our faith, and so we will return to the pattern of 'meeting' for our Lent Group PILGRIM on Thursday evenings. This will happen on Google Meet. Logins for this are

Pilgrim Lent Group

meet.google.com/xxp-sbhg-hwp

Phone Numbers

(‪GB‬)‪+44 20 3957 1703‬

PIN: ‪471 946 623#‬

We are blessed to live in an age of astonishing technology, and so we do not need to be isolated, even by COVID-19.

Finally something that doesn't involve computers. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have begun a 'Novena' or nine days of prayer and invite you to join me by saying a prayer written by St John Bosco:

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians,

how sweet it is to come to your feet

imploring your perpetual help.

If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,

how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget us?

Grant then to me, I implore you,

your perpetual help in all our necessities,

in every sorrow, and especially in all our temptations.

I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.

Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.

Obtain these benefits for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,

that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Amen

Fr. Tom