It feels good to be returning in some ways towards normality. Yet statements like that always have to be qualified by a ‘not really back to normal’ warning.
Tomorrow I will take my first wedding for 11 months, and it will be a great joy to officiate at such a happy occasion in such difficult times. I have in fact been gathering bookings from people who were unable to have a civil marriage and had supposed that a church wedding would be impossible. There are complications, it’s true - guests have to be limited to 30 and sit in certain pews and not others, but at least we are not reduced to six. We need to be able to do contact tracing, and avoid being too close to each other, and to wear masks - but that is the way things are for us wherever we go at present. But it will be good to be able to resume celebrating marriage as we have been doing in St Margaret’s for the last 900 years, or thereabouts.
I am glad to be able to resume taking bookings for Christenings too, and it is going to be simpler to hold those as a separate service at 12noon, rather than as part of our main Sunday service. Again there will be special procedures, but something like normal services will be resuming very shortly.
On Sunday 20th September, our new Bishop Graham will come and lead a Confirmation Service. It was initially booked for the end of March, so had to be called off at the last minute, which was a massive disappointment. He will baptise one adult member and then is due to confirm her and four others, making for themselves the declarations of faith that were made for them by their godparents when they were babes in arms.
As you will have gathered, we are holding most of our regular services now, on Sundays at 8.00am and 10.00am, though for the time being we are holding them all in the Church rather than going to the Church Hall on the 4th Sunday of the month, which would entail an extra lot of cleaning on top of the normal extra effort of taking everything over there.
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">On Sunday 4th October we will have our Harvest Festival. With all the extra time people have been spending in their gardens this summer, I do hope there will be some offerings of produce that can be put to good use, and we can always find a good home for packets and tins too. If you haven’t been able to join us for a live service yet, maybe Harvest is one to aim for. We have good safety and hygiene precautions in place, but ask that you bring your own mask if you can.</span>
I find it much harder to see ahead to how we might best celebrate Remembrance Sunday and Christmas. We will not be able to fill the church as we have in the past, we can’t have the congregation sing, so it’s a bit of an awkward one to resolve. My mind is not made up on the matter yet, so if you have bright ideas I’d be happy to receive them!
I have had my mother to stay for a few days in the last week, and we took her back home to give her a 99th Birthday Party, a little family group in her garden with cake and cucumber sandwiches, which she enjoyed hugely. She particularly enjoyed being driven around the countryside in Norfolk, seeing the open fields and a bit of the wider world. It really is good to get out and have a change of scene, and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy a bit of Norfolk countryside before the winter sets in.
With best wishes
Andrew Parsons, Vicar