Weekly Update – Friday 8th January 2021
from Revd Emma.
Happy New Year to you all.
The year certainly has not begun as any of us would have wished, however there is hope on the horizon, and I’m praying that this year will be a time of gradual healing and recovery for us all.
Suspension of Public Worship at All Saints
Just as restrictions began to change, and we were initially put into Tier 4 on Boxing Day, the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the PCC, met to consider what our approach should be to public worship in our parish. Of course, since that meeting the Prime Minister announced the tougher restrictions of the current national lockdown owing to rising infection rates and the pressure this is placing on NHS capacity.
Legally we can open however the decision was made that we should suspend Sunday gathered worship, and Morning Prayer as a temporary measure, for the foreseeable future, to do our part to prevent the spread of coronavirus, to encourage people to stay at home and to protect the local NHS capacity. This decision was not taken lightly, but reluctantly and with deep regret, but also in appropriate recognition of significant infection rates across the village and the pressure on health services locally. Many other local parishes have also chosen to temporarily suspend public worship for the safety of their communities.
Our online act of worship will continue each Sunday at 10am and Morning Prayer each weekday at 8.30am – you can join in with these either on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/allsaintsdenmead or our website: www.allsaintsdenmead.org.uk
We will open for two weekly Private Prayer sessions: 10.00am on a Wednesday and 2.00pm on a Sunday, for any who would like to drop in briefly for prayer, reflection and to light a candle.
Throughout this time, you can contact me, Revd Emma Racklyeft, by telephoning 023 9226 2647 or emailing: email@example.com. You are also welcome to contact Revd Jack Williams, our Curate on 07368 957 423 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We will regularly monitor the situation over the coming weeks and will provide updates as appropriate.
Church Office Hours
During this third lock down our church office is closed to visitors – however Claire is still working during our normal office hours so please do continue to email and ring, as necessary.
Christmas at All Saints
Our services and activities for Christmas last year were far from normal; we had to make lots of last-minute alterations as restrictions and infection rates kept changing, and I know there was a sense of disappointment for many that we could not celebrate, sing and rejoice in the birth of our Saviour as we normally would. But despite this, there were still things which brough great joy and hope to our community, which I want to briefly share with you.
First, our initiative Jesus, Light Up Denmead was very successful – lots of families engaged by decorating Christmas Rocks and bringing them to the Christmas tree outside church. We were also able to give out Comfort and Joy bags to over 60 families across our community sharing treats, activities, a scavenger hunt, and the message of Christmas. We saw lots of engagement on our Light Up Denmead Facebook page, and this is something we can continue to develop throughout this year.
Then secondly, we also witnessed many members from across our community, young and old interact with our stable display at the front of church and the knitted angels hanging from the porch doorway. Many people came several times and watched as the story unfurled. Others brought grandchildren or friends to visit and many took their own photos and shared with others. It was great to be able to share on our Facebook page, and again we saw thousands (yes, thousands) engage, comment and like. For many this brought a very real reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and a comfort that God is with us – Emmanuel. We will look to develop and build upon this witness as we celebrate Christmas this year.
And finally, I wanted to share a lovely idea from our Mother’s Union. They made up simple Comfort and Joy gifts which they shared with their members and delivered to elderly/isolated members across our community. I know that these gifts brought joy and care to those stuck at home.
These activities, plus many smaller unseen gifts, actions, or gestures, I know have made a big difference to our community this Christmas as we’ve shared God’s love, hope and peace.
As we move into this new year, keep shining Christ’s light; be generous, be gracious, be forgiving, keep an eye out for one another, stay in in touch (through a phone call, letter or zoom – or whatever works for you!) and let’s keep praying that God will bring us through this time of trial, stronger, deeper in our faith and trust, and committed to His Kingdom and mission. I urge you to be devoted to praying for our community, for our homes, families, and friends – that we will all discover and grow (perhaps for the first time) in God’s amazing love, so freely given to us in Christ Jesus.
... as many of you may be aware, I have taken some time off with compassionate leave at the start of this year, as very sadly my wonderful Dad died just after Christmas. As a family we have needed time to grieve, to support my Mum and make arrangements. I will be returning to full parish work next week. Thank you to all who have rung, sent a card or email, a gift, or flowers – I am so very, very grateful. Thank you.
So, for now, take care, stay safe, and most importantly stay rooted in Christ our Saviour and King,
Revd. Emma Racklyeft - Vicar at All Saints Denmead
email@example.com 023 9226 2647