So, we enter another lockdown! We are praying for the vaccine to be rolled out which seems the only exit from this virus. But beyond that, as Christians, we need to be looking to God, to be learning from Him in these difficult times, and to trust in Him.
As we start, we want to ensure that everyone is kept safe and looked after. If the pastoral phone groups, that were very active last time, have lapsed, I will try to make sure they are re-instated. Travelling is once again limited, as is meeting one another, so our electronic communications will be more important than ever.
No live services in Church
The one positive thing for Church communities is that we are allowed to meet together for worship. However, it is not as easy as that. We had an emergency Standing Committee meeting on Tuesday and decided, with great reluctance, to move to online services on Sunday (instead of meeting in person) and to suspend the Tuesday morning service in Sacombe. It also means that funerals will be graveside only.
Why did we do that? I have to say that I was reassured and settled in spirit after the discussion. There was an extremely strong concensus that this was the right decision. There were various reasons. First, we learnt that the virus is transmitting even more strongly than we realise and we need to have regard for the safety of vulnerable people. Secondly, having been already stripped of singing, fellowship and interaction after the service, now we literally should not communicate with one another before, during or after church. This is inhuman and frankly won’t happen. Thirdly, last Sunday we had extremely low numbers: people are already voting with their feet. And finally, something which occurred to me forcibly later, this is actually a good witness. We will be suffering like everyone else and not be seen happily chatting outside church every Sunday morning.
Online service provision
The great silver lining, a provision from God, are the services online. We intend to record ahead of time, to avoid any internet connection problems. Theservices can be on our Benefice YouTube channel, (which can be located via our website www.ubsms.org.uk) at 10.30 on Sundays. To this I am going to try to add an innovation which other churches have found successful. We will, through Zoom, have coffee after the 10.30 service. This will start after the service and you need to log in through my Zoom account number 7691169359, with the password 123456. The Centre continues to be online on Zoom through the same account at 4.30 every Sunday.
To add to that, I will resume the daily Morning Worship that we had in the first lockdown, although this time with a simpler liturgy that will be on screen. I hope that this will help us spiritually during the lockdown. You can access this service as for the Sunday services on our YouTube channel which you can reach via our website. Do give it a try.
I pray that in all of this we will seek God and not succumb to the temptation to drift from Him. Now is the time to pray, read the scriptures and love one another more than ever!
With much love in Christ,
John Chitham, Rector