Vicar's Monthly Letter
Vicar's Letter - August
It was wonderful to see so many people in Church in Bishops Frome on our first Sunday back worshipping together at the beginning of July. As human beings we are social creatures and the idea of being isolated from each other is not something we find easy or natural. When God created the first man, Adam, he noted, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” And he was right about that, isolation leads to loneliness and loneliness can lead to depression, it’s not good for us, we are social creatures.
Our return to church has however not been a return to normality. We continue to try and keep 2 metres apart and every other pew has a notice saying, ‘please do not use this pew’ on it. We refrain from any physical contact, no shaking hands or sharing the peace, and the priest delivers a communion wafer at arms length without the customary words ‘the body of Christ’ being said to us individually. There is no communion wine for the people and no coffee and tea after the service, indeed everyone is encouraged to leave in a timely manner. This certainly doesn’t seem normal to me! Yet compared to what we have been experiencing it is in many ways a breath of fresh air and a first step towards normality. As I’ve already said elsewhere, if I never have to produce another internet service again it will be too soon. I really didn’t enjoy spending all my time recording and editing video clips, it’s not what I ever imagined I would be doing as part of priestly ministry. Yet it was of course necessary and very much needed at the time as many of you have told me.
There are of course a lot of Churches for whom streaming services over the internet has resulted in more participation than usual and many of these churches are now reluctant to stop their internet services. For me though it all comes back to the need for us to physically congregate and be present together as the body of Christ. The simple action of getting up in the morning with the intention of attending public worship is an offering to God in itself. Being able to partake in the sacrament alongside other Christians is a wonderful privilege, especially after 12 weeks of lockdown. These things we once took for granted we now realise are so precious.
For the time being we may be limited to one service a week in just one place where we can safely maintain social distancing and proper sanitisation but this is surely better than sitting alone and watching things happen on a screen. I really have no idea when restrictions will be lifted enough for us to leave churches open each day, or when we can get back to the usual Sunday routine, taking communion in full and singing hymns in all our churches. Maybe this won’t be possible for a long time but I pray that we can continue to gather for worship safely each week even if it is in a somewhat restricted capacity.
For those who are unable to join us in church who are continuing to shield or self isolate please do let me know if you would like us to send you a pew sheet either by email or post. Also, do let me know if you have any concerns or prayer requests at this time.