What a lot has happened in a week! I hope you are all keeping safe and well in these uncertain days. If you have been unwell Aaron and I send you our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Last week I wrote about the changes to our life and work at St. Mary’s during the current pandemic and, such has been the speed at which things have moved that some of those things have already had to change. But, in the midst of the worry and anxiety, what has struck me forcibly has been the way in which the normal cares of life have evaporated to be replaced with very much simpler things: the wellbeing of those closest to us and the need to practise love of neighbour. At the same time, it is important that we take care of our own physical and mental health, loving ourselves as we are loved by God.
Worship & Live-Streaming Update Thank you to those who joined us at the first of our live-streaming services last Sunday. It was very much a first go and it seemed to be well-received. Similarly I hope you have found our brief weekday acts of worship helpful. They will continue at noon each weekday.
However, during this period of lockdown the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, supported by the Bishops of the Church of England, have instructed clergy to close their church buildings for both public and private worship. As clergy, we declare an oath of canonical obedience to our Bishops and therefore, with great reluctance, we have had to accept that we cannot now live-stream from church. However, worship will continue and this Sunday Aaron will live-stream two services at 8.30am and 11am from his home in Trinity Road. I will do the same the following week. Copies of the order of service for the 11am service will be available on the website and the live-stream can be seen either at facebook.com/stmarysbattersea or at stmarysbattersea.org.uk/covid-19.
We have prepared some resources to use at home including: The Order for the Sunday Eucharist, The Order for Weekday Prayer, The Order for Night Prayer, An Order for Spiritual Communion at Home (ideal for families or for those who don’t want to follow the online church services). You can download these at stmarysbattersea.org.uk/covid-19. Additionally, Lucy Bacon and Debbie Apostolides are preparing some videos of our Godly Play stories for the coming weeks. They will also appear weekly on the website and Facebook pages.
Don’t forget: Bishop Christopher has asked every member of our churches to do two things each day. Firstly, at 1.00pm to pause whatever we are doing to remember those at the front line of the pandemic: those who are ill, NHS staff and all tasked with research and policy. Then, at 7.00pm, wherever we are to stop and say The Lord's Prayer. This will be a sign that we remain part of the family of God even though we cannot meet.
Access to St Mary’s Church: The church is closed until further notice.</span>
Pastoral Care & Support The clergy are making a special effort to be in touch with as many members of St Mary’s as possible by telephone or Facetime/Skype. If you would like to speak to us at any point – especially if you find yourself struggling during these days of isolation – please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There are others in the congregation who have agreed to help to, so please don’t worry about being a burden. One of the advantages of lockdown is we can focus on the essentials of our ministry: worship, prayer, pastoral care, service.</span>
Don’t forget, if you fall ill with COVID-19 please get someone to let us know. We will make a special effort to pray for you and, even if we cannot visit, will find ways of showing our support, especially if you have to go into hospital.
There are now severe restrictions on funerals which, should someone close to you die, will be the hardest element of all of this period. But we promise anyone who loses a loved one that we will make sure the church is available for a much larger memorial service later in the year.
Coronavirus Angels This week has seen Coronavirus Angels really get going. Thank you to everyone who managed to deliver over 7,500 leaflets last week in just 48 hours. We have received a wonderful response with over 230 volunteers registering to help. So far we’ve only had about 15 requests, but we have been able to help everyone who has asked and are in an excellent place to be able to respond in the coming weeks. Please do alert us to any needs at 07394 856557 or [email protected]
A Prayer For Lockdown
The Dean of Southwark Cathedral has written the following prayer in lockdown:
The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked. (John 20.19)
Ever present God, be with us in our isolation, be close to us in our distancing, be healing in our sickness, be joy in our sadness, be light in our darkness, be wisdom in our confusion, be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar that when the doors reopen we may with the zeal of Pentecost inhabit our communities and speak of your goodness to an emerging world. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Simon Butler, Vicar