I hope this email finds you all well and flourishing despite all that has happened this week. It is surreal to think quite how quickly things have changed, but as we believe in a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) we are finding new ways of expressing the same truths of the gospel and what it means to be the church.
In their letter on Tuesday (how long ago that seems), the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, said “As the challenge of the coronavirus grips the world, and as the Government asks every individual and every organisation to rethink its life, we are now asking the Church of England in all its parishes, chaplaincies and ministries to serve all people in a new way. Public worship will have to stop for a season. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold. But this does not mean that the Church of England has shut up shop. Far from it. We need to look at new ways of serving everyone.”
So as we come towards the end of this week – here are some of the ways we are starting to find new ways of serving while still staying the same,
- We will be continuing to have acts of worship on Sunday. As we are not able to worship in our buildings we will worship online. Details below.
- We will be continuing to care for each other and our communities, in conjunction with parish councils and members of our villages. Details below.
- We will be continuing to pray each day in and for our villages. Details below.
- We will be continuing to offer pastoral support at pivotal moments in lives. Details below.
- We will be continuing to be the universal church, connected to the church in the nation and around the world. Details below.
1. Sunday Worship
As you know, we are not able to use our buildings for worship (so please don’t turn up), but we have been investigating ways of meeting together online. At present we are still trying things out but it seems the most effective way of doing this will be using a provider called Zoom. So this Sunday we are having a try out with a time of worship, bible study and prayer at 10:00am, which this Sunday will be hosted by me. I hope you will be able to join me by clicking on this link (https://zoom.us/j/400008490). You will have to download a small app onto your PC, laptop, tablet or phone, but you will then be able to join me and other members of the parish churches of our benefice in worship.
This is very much a try-out – so it will almost certainly be clunky and not as smooth as normal, but as we carry on things will get smoother and we will develop things further.
I realise that up until last week this might not have been your thing – mine neither – but it the easiest way to ensure that we can continue to meet up together as it says at Hebrews 10:25 “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We do also recognise that not everyone is online or wants to join in this way. So next week we will be producing a simple liturgy that can be used at home and which we will make as available as we can on paper and online and which will be used alongside the online Sunday Act of Worship.
2. Caring for each other and our communities
The staff team together will be keeping in touch with you and holding you in prayer and support. We are looking at ways of working with parish councils, the foodbank and others to ensure that no-one is left alone or vulnerable. We are trying to find ways we can easily stay in touch with you and help practically while at the same time we have to stay in as much as possible and avoid contact. However please do stay in contact with us also. The Church Office will still be open on 01362 858873 and at email@example.com, Mondays to Fridays 9:15 to 12:15 (although it will no longer be open by foot or car). Also my phone number 01362 882260 will always be answered.
Unfortunately we are going to have to plan for the possibility that some or many of us are self-isolating or get Covid-19, possibly badly, so we are trying to ensure that everything we do will be done in a way that ensures the care can carry on no matter what. We still have the “Cure of Souls” for these lovely villages of ours and the virus does not stop that.
I know that you are already caring for each other and for your neighbours, we just want to ensure that no-one is left behind. We will let you know more as soon as some of our plans are a little more filled out.
3. Praying in and for our villages
Prayers have been said Monday to Saturday in each of our villages for a few years now (Hockering, Yaxham, Welborne, East Tuddenham, North Tuddenham, Mattishall) and we will be continuing this pattern, with some changes because of the circumstances. One member of the staff team will be in each parish church using the existing pattern (of Monday-Hockering, Tuesday-Yaxham etc) to act as a hub for our prayer, but with a changed time of 9am, and we invite you to join them in prayer at home (just like Sunday worship you won’t be able to join them in the church itself). We are finalising a simple form of daily prayer that we will be using together and will get out to you as effectively as we can. If the Live-streaming works on Sunday I hope we will be able to do it like that as well. We realise that not everyone will wish to join in even a simplified form of morning prayer but please do stop at 9am and pray – using the Lord’s Prayer or a simple Arrow prayer. There is a real power when we all get together to pray even if we are not all in the same place. It is the Holy Spirit of God who truly connects us (Colossians 2:5).
I fully agree with the Archbishops in their letter I referenced earlier when they say “Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day. We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people.” I believe that there is a power in prayer and particularly when the people of God come together, so I hope that as many of you as possible will add to your schedule the coming together at 9am knowing that you are not alone but praying with many others in our villages.
This is particularly important in such uncertain times. We know that people are afraid, or acting out of character or fear (toilet-roll hording anyone). Our villages, country and world needs our prayer and the action of the God who revealed his love to us in Jesus.
4. Pastoral Support at Pivotal Times
The Church of England has a historic ministry at times of birth, marriage and death. This is continuing, again in different ways. We will continue to baptise and bless children, conduct weddings and funerals – but at the same time minimising the numbers of people who will come together as a result. If you want to know the detail you can find it out on the Church of England’s central Covid-19 webpage and we will put more details up on the website, but it will mean things are different. For baptisms, blessings and weddings many are choosing to wait, but of course for those who lose loved ones that is not an option. Please pray for those families and also the funeral directors and others who are no longer able to be as flexible as they once were in helping families and friends in their time of grief.
5. Being part of the national and universal Church.
Although I am not sure there has ever been a time before when public worship has been suspended across the country, other Christians have always had to meet privately or in scattered ones and twos (such as in North Korea) – so in one sense we are being brought together as a worldwide church in a way that our usual pattern of worship obscures.
However I would like to invite you to two things that show that greater unity in our nation as well on this Sunday, Mothering Sunday, which has been set apart as a day of Prayer and Action by all the churches in this country.
First – The Archbishop of Canterbury invites you to join with him in worship. He is being broadcast at 8am on local Radio stations, 8:10am on Radio 4 and online at 9am through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thechurchofengland).
Second – He invites you to light a candle at your windows at 7:00pm “we are calling on everyone to place a lighted candle in their window at 7.00 p.m. as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.”
Some final words
Please remember that although all public worship is suspended, the office is closed to visitors (but open otherwise), all meetings and events are suspended (unless they can be done online), we are very much still here, active and at work.
I recognise that this email will not get to everyone – so I would be grateful if you know of someone near you who is not on email please do stay in touch with them, so I have attached to this email a copy of it in letter form – please print it off and drop it through their door. Help us to find ways of encouraging them, praying with them, supporting them and being with them over these coming weeks. Also please feel free to forward this email to anyone who think may not be on our mailing list (yet).
In their letter the Archbishops go on to say “This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”
This is our intent here in Mattishall and Tudd Valley – to truly be a church for all despite of the challenges that our situation now gives us. Please do hold each other up in prayer and mutual encouragement.
And I look forward to you being with me on Sunday at 10:00am (https://zoom.us/j/400008490).
With every blessing, continuing prayers and love,
Rector: Mattishall and Tudd Valley Benefice
Benefice Office, Church Rooms, Dereham Road, Mattishall,
Dereham, Norfolk, NR20 3QA.
Phone: 01362 882260
Office: 01362 858873
Back to top of page