As we move into February, so we move into yet another phase of dealing with Covid. Over the last two years we have had a variety of instructions and guidelines from the government and from the Church of England. It has been my responsibility, in discussion with the PCCs, to decide how to respond to these in our churches. To be honest, it has not been easy – and that is still the case.
If you were in any of our morning services on 16th January, you would have heard Matt preaching on 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 where Paul uses the image of the human body to remind us of our need for one another. Matt told us one of Aesop’s fables, sometimes known as ‘The Belly and the Members’, in which the feet and the hands complain because the stomach gets all the food. The rest of the body refuses to provide food to the stomach, only to discover that they themselves then get no nourishment.
Emergency Covid measures, such as limited attendance, social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, are no longer compulsory in any setting. However the Church of England guidelines, drawing inspiration from Paul’s words, remind us that ‘within the Church we believe that everyone is known and loved individually by God and that as many members within one body we are called to be responsible to and for one another, respecting the more vulnerable whose suffering is our suffering.’
To continue to care for one another, whilst recognising that nothing is compulsory, I will continue to ask those who attend our services to wear face-coverings during February. We will continue to share the peace from a distance. We will continue to distribute communion by the president dipping the wafer in the wine before giving it to the communicant. I will look at gradually increasing the number of hymns and songs that we sing.
The good news is that we are able to recommence more activities. At St John’s we have already started a Saturday morning coffee morning twice each month, to which everyone is invited (see Diary Dates). At Christ Church, with the church hall returning to use, we will recommence Neighbourhood Lunches very soon. In March, we will be starting a Lent Course (meeting all together) and will be looking at running small groups after Easter.
We have been through a difficult time, and it is not over, but with the Lord, there is always much to look forward to.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:21-23
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Priest-in-Charge, St John the Baptist Purbrook