Now we are beginning to move out of exile, first into a time of recovery and then into rest of our lives. Some may be fearless in stepping into the future. Others may want to take things more steadily, and not want to rush into anything - perhaps finding being in a greater number daunting. Please don’t worry if this is you. Our faith story shows that this is very normal (have a look at Israel returning from exile – you’ll see what I mean)!
What the landscape of the ‘new land’ we find will look like and actually be, is down to all of us. Whether it is a kinder, more loving, more just and welcoming place will be up to us as well as the rest of society. Let us all hope and pray we can make the last 12 months count for a better future for all and that, as Christians we can play our part, as part of our discipleship.
There is much talk of ‘road maps’ at the moment. The Upper Tas Valley Benefice is not to be left out! We have one too! It gives an idea of how the churches will gradually reopen, COVID regulations permitting.
Mothering Sunday has for many years been the time when people return to ‘mother church’ and so it seems appropriate that from the 14th March we will also return to public worship on Sundays and Thursdays. We still need to take Covid-19 precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings and hand sanitising, and, because the distancing rules cut down the space available, you will need to book a place if you are planning to come to a service.
April will see the increase from two to four churches being used once a month for Sunday services, and an additional church being open for private prayer once a week (the church will be St Margaret's Church in Hapton).
When social distancing requirements are removed, which the Prime Minister has said will be no sooner than 21st June, the remaining churches will gradually become open for public worship, building work permitting. Please keep an eye out for Posters and for updates on this site in the coming weeks.
Zoom will continue to be offered as a way of joining a church-based service and for Evening (Monday's) and Morning Prayer (Monday-Wednesday). Ashwellthorpe will continue to be the place for the Thursday morning Communion each week.
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">A Special Day of Prayer on 23rd March</span>
The 23rd March marks the anniversary of the first lockdown and it seems appropriate for us to have a day of prayer in the Benefice to remember all those who have died and all those whose lives have been deeply affected by the pandemic – and to give thanks for all those people who have been essential to our wellbeing over the past 12 months. For more details please see the News section of this page.
There will, of course, be a more traditional service later in the year when we are not so limited by restrictions and when we may be able to sing.
With every blessing
(Revd Lydia Avery, Priest in Charge, The Church of England Benefice of the Upper Tas Valley in Norwich Diocese)