A few additional notes for attending church on Sunday :-
- Sidesperson will be keeping a register of everyone that attends for contact tracing purposes only – if we don’t already have a telephone number for you we will just ask to jot one down.
- There will not be a collection in the usual sense, but there will be gift aid envelopes available (but no pens so please bring one with you!) or you can donate online. There will be collection baskets at the back of church.
“I was glad when they said unto me, “let us go to the house of the Lord.”
This first verse of psalm 122 seems particularly relevant at the moment as we have been gradually returning to church for private prayer, and this coming Sunday to worship together. There has been much discussion in different churches about the importance of having a physical space available for private prayer and public worship, and the meaning of the expression ‘being Church’. As Christians, our lives should be lives of service and witness every day of the week, and during lockdown our congregation has been active in many ways – shopping for neighbours, keeping in touch with people by telephone, supporting Crosslight etc… but I believe that having an open church available, with appropriate distancing, is also an important part of our ministry. Our clergy have taken it in turns to be in church for an hour or so on most days to welcome visitors and for private conversations. On the first day our church was open again I had a number of conversations with people, several quite distressed and tearful, who had been struggling alone with various issues during the lockdown and were desperate to have a face-to-face conversation and a listening ear available. Other visitors were looking for somewhere to enjoy a few quiet moments for prayer and reflection and to wonder at our beautiful church.
It is true that we can, of course, worship anywhere but being able to meet together for worship in church is an important part of the lives of many people. It’s good that we shall soon be able to do so again at St Nick’s, although it will look and feel quite different from before. Having said this, it has been wonderful for those of us with online access to continue joining together for worship. Our thanks go to Ian Stephenson who has generously shared his IT skills and many hours of hard work to have made this possible. Some churches have not had the relevant skills to enable them to do this whilst others have been prevented from doing so if their clergy have been isolating for health reasons. It has been a particularly difficult time for them. Streaming our services online has reminded us that not everybody is able to attend services in our church building or at set times and we have therefore enabled them to access worship in a way they have been unable to do before.
On Friday of this week the Church celebrates the Feast day of St Thomas the apostle often nicknamed, unfairly I think, Doubting Thomas. We are reminded of him in Eastertide when he struggles to accept the news of Jesus’ resurrection until he has touched Jesus’ wounds. The priest/poet Malcolm Guite, whose work I have quoted before, has written a sonnet about St Thomas in his book ‘Sounding the Seasons’ which I reproduce below with permission:
“We do not know… how can we know the way?”
Courageous master of the awkward question,
You spoke the words the others dared not say
And cut through their evasion and abstraction.
Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith,
You put your finger on the nub of things
We cannot love some disembodied wraith,
But flesh and blood must be our king of kings.
Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint,
Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh.
Because He loved your awkward counter-point
The Word has heard and granted you your wish.
Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine
The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
With every blessing