Weekly Update – 18th July 2020
from Revd Emma.
I begin with a short reflection and then move onto some quick updates!
Reflection on 2020 so far…
Well, 2020 started full of sentiments for the new decade ahead… and now in ways which we never imagined it is turning out to be a year that we will never forget!
COVID-19 has been the tsunami that has swept over all our lives, locally, nationally, and globally. Everything has changed, everything is changing, and it looks as though everything will change.
Everything has changed.
For seven billion plus people on the planet all sorts of things have changed: we have become used to hand gel, masks, lockdown, and social distancing. We have learned about exponential graphs, the R number and a whole list of symptoms to watch out for. We have had our lives transformed. Our work has changed and in many cases been threatened or even ended suddenly. All our social activities, whether they be centred on gym, pub or church, have become private and personal affairs.
There have been major psychological, financial and spiritual impacts many of which are still being measured. COVID-19 has reminded us that we are mortal and our days on this earth are short-lived.
In almost every area of life COVID-19 has revealed both the best and worst of human nature: we have seen heroism and cowardice, determination and laziness, wisdom and folly.
Perhaps above all, the pandemic has challenged everything our culture stands for. For years the church has been gently asking people, ‘Have you considered the meaning and purpose of life?’ Now, COVID-19 has picked up that question and shouted it out to the world. And I think there is a unique receptivity to the good news of Jesus – people are looking for answers and hope!
Everything is changing.
As I write this now in the middle of July, change continues. In some places there is at least a temporary victory over the virus; in other nations infections and deaths continue to rise in an alarming way. The situation in Latin America is awful, as it is also in the Yemen and many refugee camps.
Borders and barriers, guidelines and regulations are changing daily. Scientific reports this week suggest a second wave will come, and that it will be far worse than the first!
After months of confinement, attitudes and practices are changing. The shock – and dare I say it – the novelty of the initial impact has worn off. Instead there is now a wearied, cautious look towards how things might be. Yet it is a puzzled look. There is a recognition that we are not going back to where we once were. Yet exactly where we will be remains merely guesswork. Repeatedly we find that plans for travel, schools, hospitals, employment and even churches are announced today only to be redrafted tomorrow.
As many of you know, I’m a great planner… I like to have services, activities and events planned well in advance, rotas drawn up, ideas agreed and implemented early – all this forward thinking has had to go out of the window for me, and I’m learning to live with that – it brings some freedom, but also a lot of frustration!
Everything will change.
Change has happened, is happening but we are also aware that it will continue to happen. We have not entered the ‘post-COVID period’. Indeed, even if there is a vaccine it seems likely we will need to maintain a permanent vigilance for the next pandemic. Hand gel may is here to stay! Will online services become the new norm? Or will people be able to return to corporate church life? Frankly, I do not know and I’m wary of anybody who says they do know. The end isn’t in sight yet.
Everything has changed, everything is changing, and everything will change.
Yet, of course, here we can say with profound gratitude that the one thing that has not changed is God and His word and the good news of Jesus.
Hebrews 13: 8 reminds us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.’ God is always loving, true, and kind and His mercy is sure and certain. God is faithful, and we can trust in Him.
With the death toll across the world this pandemic can only be considered an appalling tragedy. Nevertheless, it is possible to see tremendous opportunities within it. Old solutions and ideas have perished; there are almost certainly new challenges and opportunities, some of which at the moment we can only guess at. These are extraordinary times, but we believe in an extraordinary God to guide us.
The good news of Jesus needs to be proclaimed, you could argue more now than ever, and we as God’s people, God’s church at All Saints need to think and pray creatively, looking for fresh new ideas – that we can reach out to those in our community and see God’s Kingdom grow.
Our impact through our on-line worship/morning prayer is amazing… many people are participating each day from their homes – more than would have come to church on a Sunday and I know we are helping many in their journey of faith.
And so, our vision is still to be a welcoming, growing, vibrant church for the community of Denmead – that together we might Know God, Grow in his Love and Show God’s love in our lives and in our actions.
For now, I feel it is right that we stick with our careful, measured approach to private prayer and public worship, with other activities and groups suspended.
However, as we move into these summer months, can I please encourage you to be praying: praying for myself, the staff team and the PCC here at All Saints. As September approaches, we will need to appraise the situation, weigh up where we are at, what we can do, and what we can’t do. But from there we will need to cautiously and sensibly, start to formulate some sort of pro-active plan that will allow us to re-shape and re-form our church life, moving forwards with our services, activities, events. I have no idea what this will look like, but it is exciting, and it is an opportunity to engage in all sorts of new ways. If you have questions please do be in touch with me, Steve or Amanda (our Church Wardens) or indeed speak to any member of the staff team or PCC.
Online services from All Saints this Sunday and next week are as follows:
- This weekend Sunday 19th July at 10am there will be a short act of worship including hymns and songs, confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection from Peter Mitchell, our Licensed Lay Minister (Reader).
- Next Sunday 26th July at 10am there will be a short act of worship with hymns and songs, confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection from me based on the final verses of Romans 8!
Both are available on our Facebook page, or on our website:
There is also the opportunity to join with a Eucharist service from the Diocese:
Diocesan Morning Eucharist, Sunday 19th July at 9am. Join with senior Diocesan staff who will lead worship with others from around the Diocese. This Eucharistic service will include hymns, readings, and prayers. It will be live on the Diocese's Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/portsmouthdiocese and Facebook page:www.facebook.com/CofEPortsmouth
- Tomorrow Sunday 19th July 10am at All Saints. This will be our second public act of worship inside our church building since lock-down began. This service will include confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection this time delivered by Jack Williams, our new Curate. This service will also include Communion. As the service ends, we will ask you to leave the building. However, you are welcome to bring your own flask of tea or coffee, plus a snack, and maintaining small groups, gather in our large church garden to talk and share.
- Also Sunday 19th at 7.00pm we welcome you to bring your own supper and drink to our church garden. There will be opportunity to chat and share, before sharing in a simple service of Evening Prayer (also known as Compline). This is a gentle, reflective, quiet service rooted in Scripture and prayer and a wonderful way to end the day.
- Next Sunday 26th July 10am at All Saints. This will be our third week back in church for those able to make it. This again will be a simple Communion Service including confession, prayers, Bible reading, and a short reflection. Again, you are welcome to bring your own flask of tea or coffee, plus a snack, and maintaining small groups, gather in our large church garden after the service to talk and share.
Part-time re-opening of the Parish Office
Last week it was wonderful to welcome Claire Holland, our Parish Administrator back after many weeks of furlough. Presently Claire is still on part-time furlough, which means the Parish Office will be open for telephone and email enquiries on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning only. It is great to have Claire with us again and working alongside our team.
It has also been great this last week to start meeting again on a Tuesday morning for a socially distanced staff meeting with the team (Peter, Claire, Lewis, myself and Jack) Especially good to welcome Jack as he joins with us and to once again share ideas, feedback and plans face-to-face!
I say this each week – and I will keep saying it, if at any point you have questions about Summer Church, our building re-opening, or you have a prayer request, or would just like a friendly chat, please do ring me at the Vicarage on 9226 2647. At times I am out, but if you leave a message, I will return your call.
With every blessing,
Revd. Emma Racklyeft - Vicar at All Saints, Denmead