St Michael’s has not shut up shop!
I write this to offer encouragement and reassurance of prayer at this very difficult time for the whole of our country and the wider world. In the coming months as the nation faces the challenge of coronavirus, we have been encouraged by our Archbishops to be a ‘different sort of church’, less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, more a ‘radically different kind of church that is rooted in prayer and service to others’. At St Michael’s, following in the footsteps of Gilpin’s ministry based on faith, generosity & service and continuing to serve our community in the present, I think we are well placed to become this radically different church the Archbishops describe. While there are a number of changes in the pattern of church life (which I outline below) this does not mean that we have shut up shop – far from it!
Worship and services over the coming week
While we are not able to hold public worship that all can physically attend, I will be holding services in St Michael’s on behalf of all of the people of God worshipping and praying for our community, nation and the wider world. These will take place at set times during the week and we have attached in the magazine a Service of the Word for you to be a part of this: we want to encourage all to follow the service knowing that others are doing so at the same time but in different locations. For those with access to Facebook, we will live-stream the services at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stmichaelshls/.
This will be our pattern for the coming weeks:
Sun 10am Sunday Service
Tue 7pm Service with reflection
Thu 2pm Afternoon Prayer particularly focussed on prayers received on-line.
(This will be streamed on https://www.facebook.com/HoughtonSpace4/)
A set of Bible readings for these services is provided later in the magazine. Please also watch on-line for special services and reflections being planned for Holy Week.
A Pattern for our days:
I want to encourage us (particularly at this time) to have prayer at the centre of lives. Perhaps you will join me (in spirit if not physically) in saying prayer at 9am, 12 noon and 9pm each day knowing that others in our community are praying at the same time. We have made available later in the magazine a simple Form of Daily Prayer (which can be used in the morning or at any time of day) and a simple form of Night Prayer which you could follow at the end of the day. I want to encourage us to use these or any other form of prayer that suits us at knowing that with others in the church family we are praying together even though we are not able to be physically together. Please do this praying for others and knowing that we ourselves are being prayed for. Please do continue with the practice I invited us to share in at the beginning of Lent to pause in our day to pray the Lord’s Prayer at noon each day: I will be doing this in church (and ringing the bell) each day.
From this week we will be operating a ‘remote’ office during our usual office hours and contactable between 10-2 Tuesday and Thursday (accessible by telephone or email but not physically based in church!) Our aim is to continue to keep the office number (0191 5121769) but in case we can’t set this up in time, in the short term, please also try us on 0770 7043395. Our office email is email@example.com.
Our Space4 Project
While the ‘drop-in’ and projects part of Space4 have been suspended, we are providing ways of offering contact on-line and by telephone to try to reach out to people who may need support. In addition, we are developing ways of keeping our foodbank operating, including on the ‘supply’ side as well as safe ways of allowing people to access food if they are struggling with food poverty.
Staying in touch
We will continue to send out our weekly newletter on email, if you’re not on our distribution list at present please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be seeking to stay in touch through our St Michael’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stmichaelshls and our Space4 page which will also have details of our foodbank https://www.facebook.com/HoughtonSpace4/.
We aim to continue to provide pastoral care over this time, much of this may be by telephone in the first instance – please email us, call us in the office (email and number above) if you would like us to keep in touch with you or if you feel anyone would benefit from a call. At any point, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the Rectory on 0191 584 7657 and leave him a message if I’m not in.
You’ll find a number of prayer resources in these pages which you may find helpful at this time. I end this note, as I began, with my reassurance of prayers and with this prayer for this week in our church calendar which feels very appropriate for us at this time:
God of love,
passionate and strong,
tender and careful:
watch over us and hold us
all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With my prayers and very best wishes.