When life is changing all around us and all we rely upon seems to be stripped away, its natural to feel anxious and afraid.
When we have little of our own, we can call on God to give us his strength. As we walk through the darkest valleys, we find that God is there too.
Our building is currently closed, but the church isnt because we are a community of ordinary people, who promise to continue to pray, love and care for all, especially the vulnerable in God’s strength. Now we have the task of doing that in new ways;
- Join in a simple pattern of daily prayer: create a prayer space at home and perhaps light a candle if safe to do so. see https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/daily-prayer, Time to Pray: Common Worship Day and Night Prayer https://soundcloud.com/user-600495787 . Mobile phone users can down load the app - https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/time-to-pray. Those with smart speaker apps go to https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/our-smart-speaker-apps. For something simpler I can also recommend these 8 minute meditations with music bible passage and prayer : https://pray-as-you-go.org/.
- Do keep in touch with your church buddy and close neighbours– phone each other regularly during the week and perhaps send a letter or card. Some folk are praying the Lord’s prayer over the phone with one another or sharing prayer requests. How can you encourage each other in faith? What would be encouraging to you? Do contact us if you know of anyone who would appreciate a call
- Church at Home at 10am each Sunday and Wednesday at 9.30am, please join in our service of prayer and praise found by clicking here or on the News and View tab on the top right of the home screen from the comfort of your home.
- Continue to be generous. Our FEED food bank collection point is closed, so please if you can, offer a financial donation directly instead at https://www.thevineyardchurch.co.uk/feedfund . The homeless are one of the more vulnerable to health problems as they are less able to socially distance or access health advice. Please consider supporting local housing charities. And if you would like to continue financial giving to St Leonards click here or go to the tab on the top of the home page marked 'Join in !', scroll down to 'Make a donation' where you;ll find a standing order form and a gift aid form to complete if you pay tax. Thank you.
- Feast on God’s word. The Psalms were written by folks facing great difficulties. How about reading one before bed each night? Or study the bible in more depth through https://www.wordlive.org, a daily bible study and reflective reading of the bible.
- This month's Parish Magazine is available in digital format only, request a copy from Christine Nutton email@example.com
- Keep an eye out for a new Local Support System that has been announced that will make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries. Community pharmacies will support those who need help getting their medicines delivered. How will you know whether you are one of these people? They will soon receive communications from the NHS asking them to shield themselves and stay at home for a period of 12 weeks. This should include clear instructions to call a specific number for help.
- Consider Volunteering with Hertfordshire’s community volunteer network. Sign up to #TeamHerts - www.thvolunteering.org.uk. Already we have seen a real uprising of residents, businesses and community groups – all tapping into an amazing community spirit.
- Keeping up to date - the Church of England are updating their Corona Advice regularly at https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches for funeral, wedding and baptism information.
Finally a message this week from Archbishop of Canterbury +Justin Welby
These are unprecedented times. We are all having to get used to being the Church differently. It is not easy. However, our belonging to Christ has never been measured by the number of people in church on a Sunday morning (though we long for the day when this way of knowing Christ can return) but by the service we offer to others. Therefore, and despite these very harrowing restrictions, please do all that you can to minister to your people safely, especially to the sick, the vulnerable and the poor.
With our thanks to you all for you are bearing at this extraordinary time. We know that God is with us and we pray with you that in the midst of all this pain and sorrow we can remain focussed on the One who gives us hope.
With every blessing,
Prayers about the outbreak.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake. Amen
God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For those who are ill
Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For hospital staff and medical researchers
Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From one who is ill or isolated
O God, help me to trust you, help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Christian community
We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.
Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference
We would love to hear from you via email or phone call, Facebook or twitter, especially if you are feeling lonely and fed up, which I’m sure we all will at times. I will keep you updated as we go, but for now, sending this with my prayers and love,