A few weeks into 2021, and it may seem like the easing of restrictions we had been hoping for last year is still a long way off. Things are different from the situation during the first lockdown, but in terms of the risk of passing on the virus, we still need to be just as careful, if not more so, now that there is a more transmissible strain.
Churches are one of the few places which the government has not given directions for, but I, along with many of my colleagues (including some with medical backgrounds) feel that just because we’re allowed to open does not mean we should. Our bishops have advised us to make decisions based on local circumstances, and given permission to close churches if that seems the most sensible option.
For Adderbury, that means that we have a largely elderly, and therefore, more vulnerable congregation, plus most of the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure that things run smoothly when the church is open, are also in that age bracket. We can’t guarantee people’s safety if we open, and we want to be responsible and protect everyone in the community. So, reluctantly, closing the church both for services and for private prayer is the best thing we can do at the moment, to protect our families and neighbours.
I will be recording Sunday services (- though at the moment, with less contributions from others than last year, because my editing skills don’t yet stretch to converting file formats!), and the link for this weeks service on YouTube is here
You can always find the services by going to the Adderbury Parish channel, even if you don’t have the link.
So that we can see each other for a chat, we’re going to try a Zoom coffee after the service this Sunday. So get your drink and sign in, 11am-11.30am and see who else has arrived!
The code for that is
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 785 1898 3916
(If there is a pointing finger hovering above those codes when you point your cursor at them, you can click and be taken straight to the sites. If not, copy and paste the link into your web browser. )
There will be an evening Zoom group for bible study and discussion starting soon, and I’ll let you know details as soon as arrangements have been made for that.
If you, or someone you know, has a pastoral need, please contact me, or Enid Frost. 811038
Something to think about:
During this pandemic, we have had limitations placed upon us. Our world has become smaller. We have been asked to keep a 2m distance from others beyond our closest bubble in order to keep us safe from the virus. This protocol can leave us feeling isolated and physically distant, longing for human touch and the freedom to give a hug or hold a hand.
Despite this distancing from other people, there is no distance between us and the Divine Presence, the Spirit and Breath of Life, in whom we live and move and have our being, and who lives in us.
St Paul puts it beautifully: I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, the present, the future, height, depth, thinkable or unthinkable, visible or invisible – can come between us and the love of God (paraphrase of Romans 8:28-39).
There is also no need to stay physically distanced from nature.
Within our 2m radius, we can hug a tree, lie on the earth, smell a flower, stand in a stream, feel the wind on our face, dig around in a garden or enjoy the sweetness of an apple. This physical contact with the natural world puts us in direct connection with our Creator, whose goodness is revealed in creation.
While reflecting on this 2m bubble we are asked to keep, it might be helpful to reframe it in light of an ancient Christian prayer practice called the Caim Prayer. Also known as an encircling prayer, it is a prayer of sanctuary, where pray-ers create an invisible circle around themselves with an extended finger. This circle reminds them of God’s close presence and offers a sense of safety and love. Once the circle is created, they invite into the circle certain blessings while asking God to keep their opposite afar.
Here is one example of an encircling prayer:
Circle of Love, open my heart,
Circle of Wisdom, enlighten my mind.
Circle of Trust, protect my path.
This day, bring peace within, keep anxiety afar,
Bring health within, keep sickness afar,
Bring joy within, keep sorrow afar,
Bring hope within, keep despair afar…
Bless and encircle me
With your presence in this place
And every place.