Changes for the coming weeks
As a consequence of the new month lockdown that was announced on Saturday we have had to cancel the planned commemorations for Remembrance Sunday and services in church through November.
Earlier in the summer I officiated at a funeral and there was a link with someone who worked for the London fire brigade during the blitz. These remarkable men and women were known as the "heroes with grimy faces," and it is estimated that they responded to over 50,000 call outs. As we remember the extraordinary courage of past generations in the emergency services, part of the service this weekend would also recognise the dedication and sense of putting others first that defines those who work today in the emergency and caring services. We are very fortunate that they are there and if one good thing can come from this time it would be that they will be resourced and funded in recognition of what they do.
I’m sure that a good number of us will have either directly experienced or known someone who has been impacted by the virus. Its repercussions have been felt right through the generations. It has disrupted children and young people's education, caused job uncertainty, separated families and sadly resulted in death and bereavement.
As part of the new lockdown guidance that is coming into place on Thursday, once again churches and other places of worship are going to be closed, although with a few differences from the restrictions earlier in the year. St Mary’s can remain open for private prayer and we are also able to record acts of worship for the website and Facebook page. It is also possible to keep the food pantry open and thank you to everyone who has so generously donated items. If you have any donations please feel free to leave them in church or drop them round at the Rectory. In these challenging times it provides real help for local people.
The church was reopened for worship in July and many people have worked hard to make sure that risk assessments have been in place and that we do everything that we can to keep each other safe. Obviously, it is uncertain how long St Mary’s will be closed. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate Advent and Christmas together, even if the celebrations will be slightly different. I’m sure that we will all enjoy being able to sing again on a Sunday morning.
As we come closer to the celebration of Advent there is a particular poignancy in the theme of hope this year. The Christian message is that the “light shines in the darkness,” as what we hope for is already in some sense with us now. The pandemic cannot take away the values of faith, hope and love. These are God given gifts and we can choose to use them to support and encourage each other. I’m sure we know people who are going to feel very anxious about the coming weeks and months. There are many networks of support, but if you know of anyone who might need any help over the coming weeks then please do let me know.