According to one survey, during the lockdown, a quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service and one in 20 have started praying. While the majority of people who contract Covid-19 survive, it reminds us that we are much more frail and weak than we often like to think. As the prophet Isaiah says:
‘All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures for ever.’ (Isaiah 40:6-8).
Isaiah’s words really resonate at this time. In more normal times we can avoid facing up to our vulnerability, but this pandemic has forced us to recognise our weakness and fragility.
However, this shouldn’t lead us to despair or fear; rather it is an opportunity to worship and praise for his constancy and care. In Peter’s first letter he quotes this passage from Isaiah and says, ‘For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23). Peter contrasts our mortality with the eternal Word of God, which bring us new birth and life through the power of the Spirit. Jesus died for our sins and rose again to make us right with God, so that through faith in him we can know eternal life. We don’t need to be afraid of our frailty, for God is a firm foundation on which to build our lives and face eternity.
‘We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree. And wither and perish, but nought changeth Thee.’ (Immortal, invisible, Walter C Smith).
Yours with much love in Christ,
Vicar of Cumnor
Here is this weeks news….
Sunday’s Online Service
This Sunday’s online service is led by Jonathan with Jean Pryce-Williams preaching. Roger Long is leading the prayers, there’s the next in our series, 30 Seconds of Thankfulness, and the St Michael’s choir sing “Be still for the Presence of the Lord”. It will be available on our website from 10:00am on Sunday 28th June, https://cumnor.org/sunday-service-online-28th-june-2020/, or as usual you can listen in by phoning 01865 920993. A service sheet is available on the link above.
This week’s service is in the form of an Agape meal. The Agape is a fellowship meal, a very ancient tradition of the Church. It is sacramental in the sense that every shared meal, and every aspect of our life as God’s children on God’s good earth, can be called sacramental. During the Agape, food and drink are shared as symbols of fellowship with God and with one another. Agape is the Greek word for love as unconditional self-giving. Though we are distanced in our separate homes, this service reminds us that we are all one in Christ.
If you wish to participate in the meal, you will need to have ready some bread or crackers, as well as something to drink, and other food if you choose. You may also like to have a candle to light during the service.
Regathering for Corporate Worship
Following the Government’s welcome announcement this week of further easing of the lockdown, it will be wonderful to gather together again for worship and renewed fellowship after so many weeks apart.
We are permitted to gather for corporate worship from July 4th and so we are working hard to ensure that we can hold a service in St Michael’s on Sunday 5th July, at 10:30am.
More details will follow early next week once we’ve had a chance to examine the detailed guidance. There will be restrictions about the numbers who are able to come, because of the need for social distancing. We will have a booking system in place to ensure we don’t exceed the safe capacity.
What will it be like?
While we are still awaiting the publication of detailed guidance from the Government, there are some things that we do know: we will not be able to sing together, at least for a time. Holy Communion will need to be administered in one kind. The congregation will need to be socially distanced from one another. Services will generally need to be shorter. There cannot yet be refreshments served or long conversations at the door. There will need to be good hand hygiene. Many of our members will continue to be shielding or have family members who are vulnerable or who may be hesitant about returning to public worship. Movement throughout the church will need to be thought about carefully.
What about those who can’t come?
We are planning to continue to produce an online service for the time being while we investigate the technology we need to enable live-streaming straight from the church building. The service in St Michael’s will include many of the same elements as the online service, with prerecorded readings, prayers and preaching on the big screen. The service will continue to be available by Telephone on 01865 920993.
What about St Andrew’s and St Mary’s, and the other services at St Michael’s?
Many of our ministry team are vulnerable or shielding and so not yet able to resume public ministry, and the planning to make a building Covid-Secure is quite demanding which means that initially we can only resource one live service a week in addition to online. We are hoping that we might be able to hold the weekly service outdoors on the lawn at St Andrew’s on the 26th July.As the lockdown eases further and the team are able to contribute more again we will be able to reintroduce worship in our other churches and at the other times in St Michael’s.
David Lockett on Faith and Art – Episode 3
David Lockett has released another of his thought-provoking and popular series of reflections on paintings. This time he’s exploring “The Resurrection of the Soldiers” by Stanley Spencer.
Praying St Michael’s
The first week of being open for prayer has gone well and so St Michaels’ will continue to be open on Mondays and Fridays from 9am-5pm. At this difficult time, it has been necessary to put up barriers to restrict access to certain parts of the church. But in Christ there are no barriers to God’s presence. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Please continue to help us to keep everyone safe by using the hand sanitiser on the way in and out, observing social distancing while in the church building and not venturing into the pews and other areas which have been temporarily closed off.
County Council Consultation on Speed Limit on Cumnor Hill
After last years accident involving a pupil from Matthew Arnold, and the petition many of us signed, I wanted to let you know that the consultation for the reduction of speed on the Cumnor Hill is now online. If you are able to, please would you respond? It may also be worthwhile mentioning that a 20mph limit around the Primary School would be great too! https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/CumnorHillOxfordRoad30mph/
After Service Coffee Time
After the service on Sunday at 11:30am, we will again be gathering together on Zoom to catch up with one another.
If you’re not used to using zoom, there is a handy guide here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting
Simply click on this link to join in: https://zoom.us/j/93248933388?pwd=WG9vekgvWk1hNXFsdlFFOUlXY0F0QT09
Meeting ID: 932 4893 3388 Password: coffee
Zoom Weekly Prayer Meeting
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 Our weekly prayer meeting continues on Monday at 10:30am. Join us as we gather together online to pray for one another, our families, friends and neighbours, our parish, our nation and the world.
For more details on how to connect, see this web page.
Parish Online Worship Survey
Thank you so much to everyone who has completed the online worship survey. We are already using your feedback to help us to plan for the weeks and months ahead.
Please Continue To Pray For…
- Those doing the Alpha Course.
- The St Andrew’s Rebuilding Project.
- Those struggling to care for the vulnerable and confused at home without the normal respite services.
- Cumnor School staff, pupils and their families.
- The plans being made for holding corporate worship again in the Parish from Sunday July 5th.
- Those who have lost loved ones recently, and especially the families of Alf Popper and Christine Williams.
- Those who have lost their jobs, and are facing an uncertain future.
- All those struggling with loneliness and isolation.
- All those who are ill or growing frailer.
- Our CMS mission partner Bia.