Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Alban and St. Patrick, Highgate

Reopening St Alban's

6 Mar 2021, noon

Lockdown makes Lent seem even more penitential than normal. Lockdown also affects each of us differently. I find that I am extra busy because doing things online involves a lot of extra work. Using Zoom and making videos takes time and with no live music all the music had to be edited before the services. The same <ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:10">g</ins>oes for the readings and prayers. On the other hand, it is always interesting to learn new skills and revive old ones. For others the pandemic has been a seemingly endless time when they can’t go out or meet friends and family.

Let’s have some positive news; the PCC has decided that we will reopen the church <ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:11">for </ins>public worship on Sunday 7<sup>th</sup> March. <ins cite="mailto:Gerry%20Sykes" datetime="2021-02-25T14:35">At the mome</ins><ins cite="mailto:Gerry%20Sykes" datetime="2021-02-25T14:36">n</ins><ins cite="mailto:Gerry%20Sykes" datetime="2021-02-25T14:35">t we are NOT restarting the Thursday and</ins><ins cite="mailto:Gerry%20Sykes" datetime="2021-02-25T14:36"> Saturday morning Masses.</ins> We are asking that everyone books either through our email [email protected] of by phoning me (0121 440 0404). This will mean that as more people feel confident to come out to church we don’t have to turn people away. Please remember that we all have to behave responsibly and follow the rules.

Please book before you come to church.<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:12"></ins>

<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:12">You must wear a face</ins><ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:13"> </ins><ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:12">covering </ins><ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:13">over your nose and mouth at all times</ins><ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:14"> except when receiving communion</ins>and you may also remove your face covering to read the lessons or intercessions.

Please sanitize your hands on entering the church.

Go straight to your seat, the seats are marked up green for places you can sit and red for those that are less than 2 m away from other seats or standing places<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:12"> and are not to be used</ins>.

Please bring a pen with you and fill in the track and trace form.<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:16"></ins>

<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:16">Only the cantor(s) are al</ins><ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:17">lowed to sing.</ins>

When moving around church please follow the one-way system and if you have to queue stand on the yellow arrows marked out on the floor.

Please sanitize your hands before and after receiving communion.

When leaving the church please don’t stand around in groups with less that 2m between bubbles. I know we want to catch up with each other but please remember that it is dangerous<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:17"> and unlawful</ins>.

If we follow all these rules we minimise the risk of cross infection with Covid-19 while in the church.

Rules all sound a bit negative so here is something more positive. Enjoy being able to come to church rather than focus on the necessary restrictions. Use Lent as a time of spiritual growth and drawing closer to God. In that context, what can we make of Lent this year? If we only think of Lent as a time of fasting and abstinence, then I think this Lent will be extra difficult. Lent has never been just about giving things up, one aspect has always been taking up new things that help us on our journey on holiness. If we see Lent as being a time in the wilderness when we to make real progress in our pilgrimage to God<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:18">,</ins> then it will be much more productive. For those of you who are able to use computers we have put on some extra events. We are having our usual Stations of the Cross on Friday 6pm but we are also putting on Evening Prayer and a Study Group: details of these are elsewhere in the magazine. If you don’t have access to the internet one traditional path to holiness in Lent is to read a Lent book.<ins cite="mailto:Christopher%20Smith" datetime="2021-02-25T14:19"></ins>

To end on a positive note, infection rates, while still high in Birmingham, are falling; longer days and warmer weather are on the way; and the church roof has been replaced; the cloister entrance made better; and we are ready for renewal in our renewed building.