</div><div>As we enter 2021 we wish you all a very special and blessed new year. May we soon be able to meet freely and to worship together again without restriction and to meet with family and friends. 2020 had more than enough challenges for us all and I think everyone is relieved to move forward into 2021 for a new start with hope and anticipation. </div><div>We are, however, still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, although the hope of a vaccine is on the horizon. We have been keeping a regular eye on local Covid infection rates in Central Bedfordshire and on the daily national news reports. Infection rates for Harlington area are 'very high' and our hospitals and NHS are struggling to cope with the 'tsunami' of cases. The Virus is in our midst in this area and one lady who was admitted to the L and D hospital with the virus said:</div><div>I would not wish this illness on anyone, please emphasise to your flock to be very vigilant and take care.
I followed every rule, hadn’t even been to the supermarket since October and still caught it. She is, in her words, now on the long road to recovery and so grateful to the doctor who sent her to hospital 'just in time'.</div><div>We all have our part to play in reducing the spread of this virus and so, in consultation with the PCCs and the Archdeacon, we have decided to suspend services at Westoning, Tingrith, Toddington and Chalgrave churches this week, but we respect that there is a desire at Harlington church to continue to offer a Sunday Morning Service this week. We urge you please to be extra vigilant in Social Distancing, and sterilising care as already mentioned by Tricia in her earlier email. </div><div>In Tier 4 the Government guidance for Places of Worship is:</div><div>'You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.'</div><div>There can be no mingling either inside or outside of church. </div><div>We are keen to keep you safe and to avoid adding to these infection figures and propose to review the situation weekly about services. However, for now, in Tier 4, we can pray together in our homes and meet together virtually by zoom, or phone each other to keep in touch, and in so doing keep everyone safe. Do write and let us know how you are feeling about the situation.</div><div>Services this week:</div><div>9.30am Sunday Service of the Word Harlington Church</div><div>No Wednesday morning gathering this week.</div><div>This week's recorded service will be released on the usual link on Harlington Church website. We will issue details later with the service sheet.</div><div>The Upper Room - no service this Sunday but it will return next week.</div><div>Private Prayer:</div><div>Toddington Church Sunday 11-12 noon, Thursday 10.30-11.30am</div><div>Westoning Church: Wednesday 12 noon for an hour</div><div>Harlington Church: please contact Nigel, Linda or Tricia if you would like opportunity for private prayer.</div><div>Morning Prayer by Zoom</div><div>Monday January 4th 9.30am</div><div>Tuesday January 5th 9.30am.</div><div>Wednesday January 6th 9.30am</div>
Afternoon Tea by zoom
<font color="#000000">Harlington Church Wednesday 3.30pm</font>
A New Bible Study Course<div>We are looking at online resources with the intention to offer an online Bible study course/homegroup. We hope to study 'The Bible Course' together and are looking to host this one evening a week but will also offer a daytime option if folks prefer. Can you please let us know if you would like to join the course and your preferred time.</div><div>Praying Together</div><div>A friend wrote at Christmas that now is the time to pray for our nation like never before.. this is certainly very true with all that is faced by so many. So, please join us this month in prayer, wherever you are, as this is prayer which we can all unite in praying. If you would like to be part of a prayer group praying together via zoom, and later physically in church, when this is possible, please do link back and let us know.</div><div>The Church of England 'Hope' worship free phone line: </div><div>The Church of England offers the <strong>Daily</strong><strong> Hope</strong> resource – dial 0800 804 8044 for prayer, reflection, music and worship services from the Church of England. A weekly service is available from 9 am every Sunday.</div><div>Messy Church at home downloadable sessions:</div><div>https://www.messychurch.org.uk/resource/messy-church-home-april-june-downloadable-sessions</div><div>In the meantime please do contact us if you would like to discuss anything, however small. We are here to support you as you support others. As The Bishop of St Albans said earlier this week:</div><div>The Old Testament lesson for Epiphany comes from Isaiah 60. After sixty years in exile, God’s people have returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. The temple lies in ruins and they face opposition from some of their countrymen. In the midst of this depressing situation, God uses Isaiah to convey a powerful message of hope:</div><div><strong>'Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. </strong><strong>For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; </strong><strong>but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.'</strong><div>
Amidst all the doom and gloom, these words are a reminder that even when we face the most difficult challenges, God is still with us. Like Isaiah in his day, God has entrusted us with a message of hope and light to share with those among whom we live.Because the church buildings are closed it doesn't mean we need to be closed as the body of Christ, we can continue to live out His love and compassion. Epiphany is upon us, a time of revelation and of showing, so what better time to be galvanised by the insights we are receiving and to share with others what it is to be a follower of Jesus.<div>
</div><div></div><div>Stay safe and may this New Year be truly joyful, healthy and peaceful for you and yours.
</div><div>Thank you all for your good wishes over the Christmas period, and for your continued support. May God bless you and your loved ones this day, and always.</div><div>
</div><div>with love and prayer</div><div>
</div></div></div><div>Linda and Nigel</div>