As the national response to COVID-19 continues to escalate, you may be aware that the Church of England has made the decision to suspend public worship services until further notice. In addition, the latest government advice means that meeting together in ‘Engage Groups’ or smaller gatherings is not possible face-to-face.
This does not mean that the ministry of our church now stops. But ministry will look significantly different.
It is vital that we continue to meet together around God’s word, albeit as a scattered church instead of a gathered one. We are exploring a number of ‘virtual’ ways of doing this. Although we have to practice physical distancing it is important that we remain socially connected – and today’s tech enables us to do that so much better than ever before.
I encourage you to join in with the livestream that will take place on Sunday mornings at 11:30am. This coming Sunday our Rector, Hugh Palmer, will be speaking on ‘What is God saying through the virus?’ This can be accessed via allsouls.org/watch. The intention is to make a variety of content and resources available, once we have found our stride.
It is helpful to remember that what joins us together as Christians is the one Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, who indwells each of us. Although apart in body, we are together in spirit.
The church is no stranger to this kind of situation. Historically, the church has displayed tremendous faith and courage in the face of pandemics. The ability of Christians to not panic whilst in the shadow of death and their willingness to stay in the city and care for the sick became a powerful witness to the pagan world – and it can do so again.
Our Archbishops’ are urging us 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. May we have the courage to step forward and take the opportunities which present themselves to us. With that in mind, a day of prayer and action has been called for this coming Sunday – 22nd March. I will be in touch again with ideas on how we can engage with this.
At a time such as this, we can more fully appreciate why the Heidelberg Catechism begins as it does…
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
We can trust God with our life. We can trust God with our death. Lets be helping others do the same.
Grace and peace,
Wednesday 18 March 2020