Church of England Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham Arnold

Vicar's Pastoral Letter

15 Mar 2021, 11 a.m.

Dear Brothers and Sisters
I am praying that you are keeping well, trusting the Lord and in good spirits.
Over the past year we have been living through unprecedented times of adjustment and change not
just in our nation but across the world, as we have lived with and navigated our way through a global
pandemic together. No one and nothing has been left untouched or unchanged in the wake of its
darkness, turmoil, and loss. And we know and we have seen, that even in such darkness the light of
Christ has shone through. It has shone in the many loving acts of bravery, courage, kindness, caring
and sacrificial service. It has shone through in the grief shared, the prayers offered, and the hope
held out. And it shines in the signs and indications of a recovery ahead and a new way forward. It
shines through in the struggles and changes of new life being birthed and the promise of blessings to
All of this has of course been mirrored too in the life of the church, both nationally and at home in St
Marys. We too are looking forward, to moving into recovery and beyond as God calls us onward
together as a family. The past year has been tough for us all, but through all the changes and
challenges we have faced, we have seen Gods’ faithfulness at work in the many blessings we have
received, I have attached a list of some of them for you to see, because when we look at them it is
quite amazing and humbling.
I don’t know about you but, some of our blessings did not look like blessings to me at first!
For a start services on Zoom! I was horrified at first, and don’t like it, won’t do it, can’t do it, soon
came to mind! I had to learn to adapt, to change and rise to the challenge, because that was what
was needed for me and the church to flourish. It turns out that Zoom came to be just one more good
thing, that lockdown brought about. Because the Zoom services, after a shaky start, gradually got to
be really good as we worked it out together. One good thing about Zoom has been, that we have got
to know a lot of people’s names! Names that perhaps we have never really been sure about in the
past, we got to know them because they are right there on the screen for us to see. Another good
thing has been the ‘Break-out’ groups, we’ve gotten into at the end of our zoom services. These
have meant that we have all chatted to people we would not normally have got to chat to in church,
and we’ve been able to get to know each other a bit more. And thirdly, Zoom has meant a real
mixing of congregations, there are almost equal numbers of 9.15ers and 11 o’clockers, which has
rarely happened in the past. And it has been good, very good. Months ago, I would never have
thought I would be saying, thank God for Zoom. Because it has been a great blessing in lots of ways,
even though I couldn’t see it at the start of the journey. We will certainly be keeping some digital
presence at St Marys’, as well as reaching out to those who can’t access digital or physical services
in church.
In the light of the Road Map out of lockdown that the Prime Minister has given, it seems that if all
goes well, we should be back doing live services in church at some point after Easter. I know that
many of us are really looking forward to that time. It will be great to be physically back together
again, after so long won’t it! And it will be great to see what God will do as we continue trust in Him
and grow together.
Throughout all the developments that have happened over the past year and earlier, I have been
praying and seeking to discern Gods’ way forward for us as a church, along with the wardens,
standing committee, PCC and others. On Thursday, the PCC took the decision that when we reopen
physical services at St Marys that there will be one main Sunday service at 10.30 am each week, and
that the 2nd Sunday of the month will include Communion. And that on the 4th Sunday of each month
in addition to the 10.30 am service there will be a BCP Communion service at 8.30am. There will also
be a service of Communion on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 2.00pm.
I am praying that we all help each other adapt to these changes, and that we will all get into one
boat with one agenda, which is to love and care for each other, serve God and grow his church in
this community. I am also praying that we will work it out with God and each other as we set off on
this new phase of our journey together. I and the leadership at St Marys want everyone to choose to
come on board the boat. And we want each of you to know that no one is excluded and that means
everyone, from the choir to the smallest children and everyone in between. And that like the family
we are called to be, we will work it out together in love. Like any family, no one individual member
will absolutely love or even like all the choices and decisions, that are made for the good of all.
There is a need for grace and goodwill will, from everyone, each one bearing with each other out of
love and care for each other and for God. Often in family life we get surprised that the things we do
out of love for another often change us. That instead of just tolerating something for someone else’s
sake, or just putting up with it, we find that in graciously giving that we actually receive, we get
blessed in the sacrifice. And may even come to enjoy whatever it is as we see the joy of someone
else being blessed through it. After all it is in the giving of ourselves to each other that we all receive.
Over the next few weeks as we journey through the rest of Lent towards Easter, I with the wardens
will be having some personal conversations with those who may be anxious about what the changes
at St Mary’ will mean for them. We are going to do this, because we want to bring reassurance that
we are committed to helping all of us to get into one boat. We are praying that everyone will choose
to come along, that we take everyone with us and that no one feels excluded, as we move forward
on our journey together with God.
A Prayer
Thankyou Lord God that you are constant and faithful to us in our journeying through life.
Be our guide as we move forward and fill us afresh with your Spirit that we might love and care for
each other, serve you and grow the church of Jesus together. Give us grace, wisdom, patience, and
courage to work things out together, as we trust in your good plan and purposes for us and your
church. Amen
With much love and prayers,
yours in Christ Jesus