IMPORTANT NEWS – Dear Friends I hope that you are all up to date with the latest developments on the Corona virus, and the latest information and advice from our Government. We have been told that we should avoid gatherings in pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas, and most sporting events have been cancelled. Yesterday in the Commons Matt Hancock the Health minister in a response to questions about faith groups meeting in numbers said that churches, mosques etc. should all be subject to the same guidelines concerning numbers over 50. In other words, we should not meet.
Over in the USA the churches are postponing their services for an initial month. Here in the Canford Magna team we feel that it is only right that we conform to this edict and postpone our church services too. All three churches will not be holding public worship until we are told otherwise.
Apart from those of you who experienced something of the difficulties of the Second World war most of us have never in our lifetimes experienced anything like this. It is unprecedented and unchartered territory. As leaders we realise our limitations, and in relation to this crisis our ability to get it wrong, so please be patient with us as we are far from infallible. It does not feel right to suspend our public worship, it feels very wrong in so many ways, but we have to show that we are taking this seriously and responsibly, and we need to care for the vulnerable.
In the light of this decision we are though planning to give everyone ways of connecting with the Lord and with each other. Whoever is the preacher for the coming Sundays will be asked with the help of our tech team to record the sermon, we will also create links to songs on You Tube that reflect the theme of the sermon, and we may hopefully even celebrate Holy Communion in your living room as long as you provide your own bread and wine!
This Thursday and every Thursday for the foreseeable future, Chris, Mike and myself are calling the church to prayer even though we can’t meet together. Please join us if you are healthy and able to and join us in prayer, and fasting if you feel it’s right. Please pray for your own health, that of your family and friends, the church family, the wider community, our nation, and the global community.
Canford Parish Church will be open if you want to come in and pray during the day. This is at your own risk but provided you take reasonable precautions this should be safe and you might find it helpful.
I will be sending out more pastoral letters and info over the coming weeks, this is just a start but let me finish by sharing some more wise words from the evangelist JJohn.
‘These are remarkable times indeed: whoever invented bacterial wipes must be rubbing their hands.
Now, you may consider the above paragraph insensitive or politically incorrect. If so, I apologise but it is written to make a point. Fear is out there and fear affects how we think and how we react. Out of fear, decent men and women are now unashamedly stealing medicinal hand wash. Out of fear, people who would have considered themselves dignified citizens are grappling with each other for the supermarket’s last toilet roll. Out of fear, men and women are avoiding doing acts of kindness.
Fear distorts what we are, and what we are supposed to be. In the Bible we read the phrase ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18) but the opposite is also true: ‘perfect fear drives out love’. It drives a lot of other things out as well. Much that is wise is said at the moment about the virtues of handwashing and I am happy to endorse that wisdom. Yet in thinking about fear and morality it’s interesting that the one celebrated biblical case of handwashing – that of Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus – involved a man failing to do what was obviously the right thing because he was in the grip of fear (Matthew 27:24). There’s a lesson there.’
This is a time to draw together in prayer, trust in Jesus, and live as disciples ready to serve one another in love. We want to pray and not panic, safe in the knowledge that the perfect love of Jesus casts out all fear. We can get through this together.
in his grip