‘God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46)
The global outbreak of COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on our way of life, and the Church is no exception. Following advice from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, public services at St Ippolyts Church and St Mary’s Churches in Great and Little Wymondley on Sundays and on all other days of the week are suspended until further notice.
This does not, however, mean that our churches are closed: far from it. No matter what happens, the church continues in each of us: our calling is always to worship our Lord Jesus Christ who is forever faithful, and to love and serve each other. This crisis calls us to model a different way of being the church and we are putting the following in place to enable us to do that:
I will continue to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday mornings, on behalf of the Benefice, at 9.15am in St Ippolyts church, joined by either Revd Paul Lanham, our Reader Howell Davies or Lay Leader of Worship Doug Richardson, as they are able; to pray for our parish and for its people, for our world, and for the sick and the departed. The celebration of the Eucharist is the most powerful form of prayer and is at the heart of our life as a church; it will continue even though it is not open for others to attend. If you have any specific prayer requests please let me know.
At 9.15am each Sunday the bell of the church will be rung as it always is as a call to prayer. At some point between 9.15am and 10.15am, if you can, please stop what you are doing and pray, perhaps by using the prayer booklet (mentioned below) and by offering your own prayers, so that as a church we continue to worship together.
In addition to Sundays, I will also continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer on behalf of the parishes each day but again these services will not be open to others to attend.
A short booklet with prayers for use at home, the weekly readings, and worship resources for use with children will be circulated in due course. I am also looking into ways to make some sermons/reflections available via the website, e-mail and social media.
Use of the church building
Although we cannot congregate together, St Ippolyts Church and St Mary’s Church, Great Wymondley will be open for private prayer each day as usual. Practicalities in locking and unlocking prohibit this at St Mary’s, Little Wymondley. Obviously people will be expected to observe proper hygiene and social distancing. If you are not self-isolating, please do make good use of our wonderful church buildings for prayer and reflection.
Keeping in touch
I will aim to make available readings, reflections, prayer resources and regular updates as we respond to this changing situation through e-mail and by posting on our website and social media. If you are not on our e-mail list or are unable to access a computer then please let me know.
All three parishes in the Benefice have a remarkable church family and I know that we will show the love of God by caring for one another at this extremely challenging time, and that we will also find strength in God our Father who loves us more than we can imagine and who sustains us in all our difficulties.
As your parish priest and your friend I am always available for a conversation or pastoral support – please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or on the number below. I greatly look forward to the time when we can once more gather together for worship, but for now I end with a prayer that I hope will bring some comfort and hope at this time.
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. Amen.
With my love and prayers,