Letter to St Andrew's, Ham.
We have all already been adapting significantly over the last few weeks, due to the spread of coronavirus. Following the various announcements this week, life has now become very different, offering us unexpected challenges and opportunities.
I expect you have heard, but just to be clear, the Church of England has now suspended all public worship. This means there will be no Sunday or Wednesday services at St Andrew’s. Most groups and events have also already been cancelled, and most of us will be either social distancing or in self-isolation.
I don’t think any of us expected to give quite so much up for Lent! But given the situation we find ourselves in, I know we all have begun not only to look at what we need to do to take care of ourselves and our families, but also how to support our neighbours and friends. Thank you for all you are doing to help those around you. These kind words and actions will make all the difference, particularly to the most vulnerable.
Over the last few weeks I have been planning what to do should we get to the point where church as we usually run it needed to pause. These plans are now all being implemented and I wanted to communicate some of that with you now, and to ask for your help and co-operation. We may not be able to meet as usual, but Church will not stop; being the community of Christ is not cancelled, it will just look a little different for a while.
Here are four of the main ways we will continue to stay in contact, support each other, and enable our continued discipleship and spiritual development.
1 THE WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA.
The website will continue to be updated, as will Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I encourage you to check these and sign up to the social media feeds.
2 PASTORAL CARE AND CONTACT DATABASE.
We are contacting everyone on the Electoral Roll, or who we have details for, to check how they are, and ask them about support they need or are able to give to others. All this information will be be confidentially co-ordinated so that we know who we are supporting, what support has or needs to be given, and who is or will be giving that support. Each person in the church is being assigned a Key Contact to further facilitate the roll out of support and resources.
3 RESOURCES PROVIDED BY POST AND E-MAIL.
The new database will also allow us to send out resources to the whole church. These will include things such as: liturgy and prayers allowing everyone to hold their own worship at home, worksheets, activities and crafts for children and young people, and a range of information and devotional material. These mail shots will mostly be delivered to your door by your Key Contact.
We will also be sending out more e-mails. Particularly within groups such as the Lent Group or Ham Priory and making a lot more phone calls to each other.
4 PRIVATE PRAYER IN CHURCH.
Though the church is closed and public worship is suspended, a Priest will continue to celebrate Holy Communion Services behind closed doors on a Sunday and Wednesday (and some of the principle feasts of the Church calendar).
Following guidance at the time, on Sunday 22nd March we did have the church open for an hour, with strict social distancing, and this was much appreciated by those who came in. However, the next day the guidance changed again and currently we cannot open the church to the public at all. As soon as this changes we will let you know and really look forward to welcoming you in again.
Till then we can also say prayers individually at home, but at the same time as everyone else, knowing that over Ham, Kingston and further afield, our congregation are joining together with us in thought and prayer for each other and the world. Bishop Christopher has invited us to pray for our nation and all those affected by coronavirus and say The Lord’s Prayer both at 1pm and 7pm each day. He also suggests putting a lighted candle in your window at night, though please carefully consider all safety aspects before doing this, making sure there is no danger of setting your curtains alight and not leaving a burning candle unattended!
This is a challenging and uncertain time, but our goal as a church community remains the same, to love God and love each other, to respond to whatever we face with love and not fear, and to be good news to our neighbours and our world. As we continue to do these things, despite the challenges, I believe we will be blessed and be a blessing, seeing the grace of God at work in every word and act of kindness.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers and I look forward to whatever challenges and opportunities these next few months bring knowing I do so in the companionship of this wonderful community.
All best wishes, Revd Alice Pettit, St Andrew’s, Ham
BBC EASTER PROGRAMMES 2020
Heavenly Gardens - BBC One
Britain’s love affair with sacred gardens is ancient; these glorious spaces represent hope and expectation and have long been spiritual places that can have a profound impact on our heart and soul. To celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday this year, former chorister and garden lover, Alexander Armstrong, along with garden designer Arit Anderson, visit six spectacular gardens steeped in faith and spirituality. These beautiful landscapes are bursting with new life that symbolise beauty, joy and hope.
From The Bishop’s Palace in Somerset to Pluscarden Abbey in the Highlands of Scotland; from Cambridge University’s stunning Botanic Garden to Alnwick Castle’s newly transformed garden in Northumberland; from Scone Palace’s gardens of kings in Perthshire to Sudeley Castle’s sacred connections in the Cotswolds, Alexander and Arit celebrate the significance of gardens in the Easter story itself. They will get hands on in these sacred places, meeting the custodians of these glorious gardens to pick up gardening tips and discover the very special and surprising spiritual significance of each place.
Alexander Armstrong says: “I’ve always loved gardens. They’re beautiful places to enjoy plants, flowers, fruits and nature’s changing seasons. Most of all though, for me, they’re spiritual retreats from the modern world. This is a dream programme for me, celebrating some of the UK’s most sacred gardens and meeting the amazing people whose physical and spiritual lives are intertwined in them.”
Urbi et Orbi - BBC One
Live from Rome, Pope Francis delivers his Easter Message and Blessing Urbi et Orbi - to the city and to the world. BBC Religion Editor Martin Bashir, will provide commentary.
Easter From King’s - BBC Two
With music and readings from the fan-vaulted Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, the world-famous choir sings some of the best-loved choral music for the season, directed by Daniel Hyde, in his first year directing the Choir. The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection will be told by members of King’s College from the Bible and poems written by Patrick Carey and Malcolm Guite. The congregation will join in with popular Easter hymns including Ye Choirs Of New Jerusalem and Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.
Sunday Worship - BBC One
A special edition of Sunday Worship, with an Easter Sunday service coming from Bangor Cathedral in Wales, led by the Dean of Bangor, the Very Reverend Kathy Jones.
At The Foot Of The Cross - BBC Radio 2
Friday 10 April, 8-10pm
Recorded at Maida Vale Studios, join Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir and Euphony Voices for an assortment of spiritual and traditional music. The programme will feature a dramatic retelling of the Crucifixion and the events leading up to it, written and narrated by author Frank Cottrell-Boyce. With special guest performances from the BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers of the Year 2019, singer/songwriter Lucy Grimble, and spoken words from poet and theologian Siku.
Words And Music - BBC Radio 3
Sunday 12 April, 5.30-6.45pm
Words and Music presents an Easter Sunday special celebration of music, prose and poetry on BBC Radio 3. Music and readings on the theme of Eastertide, Spring and the Passover. Including prose by Tolstoy, Richard Yates and Jane Austen, poetry by TS Eliot and Christina Rossetti, and music by Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Judy Garland.
Choral Evensong - BBC Radio 3
Repeat programmes which reflect the liturgical year as it moves from Lent into Easter:
Wednesday 1 April - Magdalen College, Oxford (2016)
Wednesday 8 April - Westminster Cathedral (1998)
Sunday 12 April - Easter Day from Norwich Cathedral (2017)
Beyond Belief: Sin - BBC Radio 4
Monday 6 April, 4.30-5pm
Easter is the most important time in the life of the Church. It’s the time when Christians retell the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. Christians believe that Jesus died to atone for the sins of the world. But what does that actually mean and how do we define what a sin is? Ernie Rea is joined in the studio by Dr Gemma Simmonds, Director of the Religious Life Institute in Cambridge; Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Rabbi at Manchester Reform Synagogue and a former human rights lawyer; and Davinder Panesar, transpersonal psychologist and author.
Lent Talks - BBC Radio 4
Wednesday 8 April, 8.45-9pm
Lent Talks is a personal perspective on an aspect of the story leading up to Easter. This year’s theme is identity - losing and gaining identity; struggling with identity; accepting and owning identity. In today’s episode, Bishop of Loughborough Guli Francis-Dehqani reflects on her journey of identity as an Iranian-born British Christian.
Good Friday Meditation - BBC Radio 4
Friday 10 April, 3-3.30pm
Baptist minister the Revd Richard Littledale presents a personal reflection for Good Friday. Richard considers why Christians see beauty and love in an instrument of torture central to their faith - the cross. Richard meets artists and commentators whose work has been much affected by this iconic Christian imagery. Historian Iszi Lawrence finds the cross a challenging image which nonetheless has influenced the whole iconography of Western art. Neil McGregor has been enthralled by Salvador Dali’s depiction of the cross since he was a boy.
Easter Sunday Worship
BBC Radio 4
Sunday 12 April, 8.10-9am
In a specially-compiled studio service, pre-recorded close to transmission, the Archbishop of Canterbury leads a meditation to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Three Vicars Talking - BBC Radio 4
Sunday 12 April, 1.30-2pm
Three Vicars Talking is back for an Easter special. The programme brings together the Reverends Richard Coles, Kate Bottley and Giles Fraser to swap curate shoptalk. Easter is the busiest time of the Church’s year - from Ash Wednesday through to the Resurrection, these three vicars share their stories and experiences.
Further information on what the suspension of public worship will mean will be available as soon as possible on the Church of England website. This page will be regularly updated.
A prayer about the Coronavirus outbreak
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.
For those in isolation
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For those who are worried/social cohesion
Loving Jesus, you are compassionate to those in need
and heal the sick in body and mind.
Look kindly on those who are fearful at this time.
Help us all to put away all thoughts and actions
that separate us from you and from one another.
Give us grace to live our lives
confident in your promise that you are with us always.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to care for the sick,
and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
For those who are ill
we entrust to your unfailing and tender care,
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold us safe.
Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For hospital staff and medical researchers
give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
From one who is ill or isolated
O God, help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayers for when you can't get to church
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples, ‘I am with you always’.
Be with me today, as I offer myself to you.
Hear my prayers for others and for myself,
and keep me in your care.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
From St Patrick’s Breastplate
Prayers for when you can't get to church cont.
I am giving you worship with all my life,
I am giving you obedience with all my power,
I am giving you praise with all my strength,
I am giving you honour with all my speech.
I am giving you love with all my heart,
I am giving you affection with all my sense,
I am giving you my being with all my mind,
I am giving you my soul, O most high and holy God.
Praise to the Father,
Praise to the Son,
Praise to the Spirit,
The Three in One.
adapted from Alexander Carmichael,
Carmina Gadelica (1900)
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
The ‘Jesus Prayer’
After a time of prayer:
Be with us, Lord, in all our prayers,
and direct our way toward the attainment of salvation,
that among the changes and chances of this mortal life,
we may always be defended by your gracious help,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O good Jesus, hear me:
hide me within your wounds
and never let me be separated from you.
From the wicked enemy defend me,
in the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to you,
so that with your saints I may praise you
for ever and ever.
Short passages of Scripture for reading and contemplation
Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation
Psalm 46 Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 91 He shall cover you with his wings
Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me out and known me
Isaiah 43 (esp vv.1-7) Do not fear, for I am with you
John 14 Do not let your hearts be troubled
A prayer for when a friend is ill
Dear God, (name of friend) is ill.
They are not allowed to go to school or come over to play.
I’m sad because I miss them.
They must be feeling miserable and lonely as well.
Please be close to them.
Please be with the people who are looking after them.
Please help them to get better and to know that you love them.
A prayer for the world
God of love and hope,
You made the world and care for all creation.
But the world feels strange right now.
The news is full of stories about Coronavirus.
Many people are anxious because of it.
Many people are anxious that they might get ill.
Many people are anxious about their family and friends.
Be with them in their worries and help them to find some peace.
We pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists who are working to discover the right medicines to give hope to those who are ill.
Thank you that even in these strange and worrying times,
you are with us.
Help us to look for the signs of your goodness and love towards us.
A prayer at bedtime
Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the World, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.
Tonight we pray especially for (names family or friends who are affected by Coronavirus) and the people of (country or place which is affected by Coronavirus). Give skill and wisdom to all who are caring for them.
A prayer remembering God is with us
Lord God, you are always with me.
You are with me in the day and in the night.
You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill.
You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am anxious.
Today I am feeling (name how you are feeling) because (reasons you are feeling this way). Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything today.