Parish News for March 27th 2020

Dear friends,

In common with the rest of the country, it’s been a strange week here in the Vicarage, as we try to get used to these extraordinary times. Everything seems to have changed in such a short space of time! 

Watching the wonderful service from the Cathedral on Sunday morning was good, but this week I keep looking across the road to our church building and wondering when we’ll be able to gather there together again. I know it will be an occasion of considerable joy, but I expect that that will be mingled with the sadness of lives having been lost.

On a personal level, while I’ve long been accustomed to working from home, I’m now having to adapt to much more work by telephone and skype and an even greater volume of emails. While I’m really excited about the potential of our Sunday Service Online (details below) I’m finding it really strange speaking to a camera instead of a live congregation!

As a family, we’re having to get used to the kids learning from home, as the school use the latest technology to set them work. On the plus side it is lovely to have them around a lot more and we’re finding we’ve more time to all eat together as a family now that the regular weekly routines of swimming lessons, cubs, guides and so on are suspended. 

It is unsettling for all of us to pause and think about how much has changed so quickly for us all. What a comfort then to remember that our God is unchanging! Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” In the present whirlwinds of change he is always with us to comfort us, and strengthen us. To banish fear, and to say to the storms of the world “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) There is a Persian adage, “This too shall pass” which has been a comfort to me in times of trouble. Nothing lasts forever, and a Christians we have the sure hope and confidence “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Let’s hold on to these wonderful truths at this difficult time!

With much love in Christ,

Jonathan.

Here is this weeks news from the Parish:

Sunday Service Online

We’re worshipping together online! Join us this Sunday from 10:30am on our website (https://cumnor.org/sunday-service-online/) or listen in by ringing 01865 920993 (just a local rate phone call). Eve Lockett is preaching.

More details here: https://cumnor.org/sunday-service-online/

Pastoral Care By Telephone

We have put in place a system of pastoral care by telephone. Everyone on our Electoral roll (and several others besides) should now have been contacted by their home group leaders, or one of our pastoral care team. They will keep in touch with you on behalf of the church for as long as the social distancing regulations last. If you, or anyone you know has been missed then please let Sarah know (01865 861541 or office@cumnor.org) so we can include them too.

Although we are very sadly unable to offer to visit at this time, I and others on the ministry team are available to help you too. Please give me a ring if you’d value a chat about anything.(01865 863702)

Mental Health Resources

An important part of surviving difficult times like these is looking after our mental health. I was very pleased then to see that the Church of England has produced 13 daily reflections that seek to provide hope, reassurance and comfort. They have also published five tips to help tackle loneliness and isolation. 

Home Worship Resources Sent Out

This week we have put together a pack of resources for worship at home and mailed it out to 115 different addresses from the Electoral Roll. There are prayers to pray, some simple worship services if you can’t join us online, a great booklet on “Keeping in Touch” written by Eve Lockett, a psalm 23 prayer card, the teaching programme and collects for the next few months and some palm crosses. 

If you want extra copies of any of the resources, they are also available on our website: https://cumnor.org/home-worship-resources/ 

There are links to other great resources here too, and we expect that more will be added over time.

Website Updates

We will keep adding resources and updates to the Parish Website (https://cumnor.org)  This week in addition to updating the homepage, we’ve added new pages for Home Worship Resources (see above) and for our Sunday Service Online.

Facebook Updates

The St Michael’s Facebook page is being regularly updated too. John Rees has been supplying some updates to the St Michael’s FaceBook page this week. It’s the best place to keep up with the latest news from the parish and some great resources too. Search on Facebook for St Michael’s, Cumnor and Like the page to keep up with the latest posts.

Easter – Good Friday Service and Easter Day Communion Online

We are planning online services for both Good Friday and Easter Day.  

Virtual Home Groups

Our home groups are exploring new ways of meeting together using technology to overcome social distancing. John Rees writes:

“First experience tonight of a ‘virtual home group’. Went really well, and brought together a dozen or more members, each safely in their own homes (not all even in the UK at the moment) to catch up on how everyone (and their friends and families) are getting on. A generation ago, fellowship groups in members’ homes were the way forward. Maybe the online church groups now being forced on us by circumstances will prove to be one of the Spirit’s creative ways into the Christian future…”

Please pray for:

  • Those affected with the CoronaVirus
  • Those who are feeling lonely, isolated and fearful at this time 
  • The family of Peter Wren whose graveside funeral Jonathan is conducting on Monday afternoon. (Close family only.)

Jonathan Widdess

Vicar of Cumnor