Communion in the Parish during Coronavirus

During the Coronavirus pandemic this parish will not be celebrating Holy Communion.

This will be difficult for many of us. Holy Communion is, for many, a vital part of worship – not just vital in the sense of ‘important’ but in the original sense of the word – ‘life-giving’ or ‘belonging to life’. We know that God is with us whether we share in Communion or not, but the sharing of the Bread and Wine helps us feel united with each other and with other Christians now, in the past and in the future, and it reflects our relationship with God.

Within the Christian Church, and within the Church of England, there are many different theologies of Holy Communion. It is not a question of which are right, and which are wrong, it is more a question of which matters are given greater priority.

Lesley and I believe that when we preside (note the choice of word, not celebrate) at Holy Communion we are presiding in an action undertaken by all the people of God who are present. When people are not present, for us it loses its significance. Consequently in this parish we have decided not to stream services of Holy Communion – which would be others watching us have Communion whilst not having it themselves. In fact, we will not be streaming any services (using streaming as a technical term to mean people joining a live broadcast), as our experiments to date have not been terribly successful. Instead we will continue to put pre-recorded material onto the web site.

This may not suit everyone and we understand that so we have a couple of suggestions to help until the current lockdown is lifted.

  1. There are streamed services on the web which include Communion and you can watch these.
  2. You can partake of Spiritual Communion

Spiritual Communion

During this time of not receiving communion we can receive Spiritual Communion.

Bishop Jo has written a paper on Communion during a pandemic:  https://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/docs/default-source/coronavirus/priestly-practice-in-a-pandemic.pdf?sfvrsn=bb330032_0 which includes the following:

The Book of Common Prayer instructs us that if we offer ourselves in penitence and faith, giving thanks for the redemption won by Christ crucified, we may truly ‘eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ’, although we cannot receive the sacrament physically in ourselves. Making a Spiritual Communion is particularly fitting for those who cannot receive the sacrament at the great feasts of the Church, and it fulfils the duty of receiving Holy Communion ‘regularly, and especially at the festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun or Pentecost’ (Canon B 15).

It also contains a link to the Church of England’s advice on this:  https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/Guidance%20on%20Spiritual%20Communion%20and%20Coronavirus.pdf

If you wish to discuss this with Lesley or myself, please give us a call.

Image by David Eucaristía from Pixabay

What has been happening in the Parish?

During the last 3 weeks a number of changes have occurred in the parish.

Priorities

Look after ourselves

At this time all of our first priorities is to look after ourselves and others – if we do not we may unwittingly spread the virus.

Look after others

We also need to look after others.  Many in the congregations will be over 70 or have preexisting conditions which mean that they have to self isolate, but even when self isolating we can look after others – and neither we or they have to be churchgoers to do it: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/04/elderly-people-in-uk-set-up-support-networks-to-tackle-coronavirus.  We can also look after others by helping with shopping, or collecting prescriptions.  Farnham is organising this well: https://badshotleaandhale.org/2020/03/26/farnham-and-villages-helpline/, and there is no need for the churches to set up in competition, so if you have the time and are able, please consider joining in with that.  Here is some information on what this is doing: https://www.facebook.com/farnhamofficial/videos/222226172190384/

Wendy is building up a list of who is in contact with whom, so that we can identify anyone missed out.

Stella is acting as a contact for those who need help or are offering it, although this should be moving to the helpline as they are better resourced to manage this.

Worship

We are looking at ways to replace our worship.  A pattern is developing, and more will be done on this.

Things that have happened

The Standing Committee + Stella and Wendy are meeting Weekly to review the mountains of advice which is coming at us from the government, the national church and the diocese.

Our buildings are closed, but they are being inspected from the outside daily during someone’s daily exercise; from the inside weekly during someone’s daily exercise; and people who live locally have been asked to keep an eye out for anything unusual happening around them.

Alan & Lesley have both had the coronavirus (self diagnosed) since 16th March and have been self isolating, although neither of us has had breathing difficulties.  Alan is recovering and has been able to do a lot on the web; Lesley has got better, but is less able to do anything, and hasn’t answered many emails.

Image by Santiago Lacarta from Pixabay

Starting a Course

Whilst some of us are busy working, looking after children and struggling to get by, others may be climbing the walls with too little to do.

Would anyone like to take part in a virtual house group after Easter?  Or would anyone like to run a virtual house group after Easter?

Please let me know if you are interested, and if so which days/times of day you could make, and which course(s) you are interested in.

There are numerous courses becoming available:

https://www.uspg.org.uk/resources/study/

https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/explore-the-bible/the-bible-course/?source_code=92713_t1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2020-04-03%20%20Newsletter%20%20Stream%20The%20Bible%20Course%20online&utm_content=2020-04-03%20%20Newsletter%20%20Stream%20The%20Bible%20Course%20online+CID_c0c7183c2527aab33bba70648aaaa9d5&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=The%20Bible%20Course

Greenbelt have recordings of many of their talks over the years: https://www.greenbelt.org.uk/talks-archive/.  We could listen to one of these and the meet virtually to discuss what we have heard.

Some of these courses are free: https://ntwrightonline.org/courses/.

 

I may add further courses as they become available!

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

 

A different way of experiencing Lent

Life seems very strange at the moment. Some of our parishioners are still working, some of them are working for the NHS and are working extremely hard so that the rest of us receive the care and attention that we need if we are ill. Many are suddenly finding that they have to work from home and others suddenly find themselves with no work. Those of us who are retired and over the age of 70 are being advised to self isolate especially if we have underlying health problems. None of us is supposed to be socialising; we can only go shopping for food or medicines and even if we go out for walks we have to keep our distance from all those we meet. As Archdeacon Martin said in the daily bulletin from the diocese of 31/03/20 “We are currently walking though uncharted territory. The terrain is rough, unlevel and hard to negotiate and the destination is unclear.”

To me the fact that all this is happening during Lent is making me feel that this year we are all experiencing Lent in a way we have never experienced before. We may not be fasting in the sense of giving up chocolate or whatever we usually “give up for Lent”. We are fasting in a completely different way. We are not able to take part in one of the Lent groups. We are not able to attend a church service. We cannot even go inside the church and pray privately. We are all experiencing the sense of deprivation, the sense of being without something that is precious to us. We cannot meet our friends. Many of us live alone and although we may not feel lonely in the way some elderly people who have no family and no friends feel lonely, we are experiencing a sense of isolation. It is also in a way quite claustrophobic and can cause a sense of panic as you wonder when this will all end. So it is a period of fasting but it is more like the experience Jesus had when he was in the wilderness. In a way we are all in a form of wilderness. We have never experienced anything like this before and it is frightening.

In amongst the fear and sense of isolation, there is goodness – people are communicating with each other, they are phoning or sending emails – checking that everyone is alright. People are offering to get shopping for neighbours and friends and generally being supportive. I am witnessing a sense of neighbourliness and caring that is growing. So out of that wilderness is coming love and caring.

In Alan’s sermon on Sunday he referred to the question of suffering. Jesus never told us it would be easy if we followed him. There was no expectation that we would be free of suffering. If people who were believers found themselves free of suffering and pain then everyone would become believers but for the wrong reason. They would only believe because of what they would gain. There is no love in that, no real indication of a real faith. It would not necessarily create a very pleasant world. Jesus taught us that we should love one another. Real love is not free of pain. When people suffer pain other people become more caring. So out of pain and suffering comes love and caring. God knows about pain and suffering and when we suffer, when we feel pain then God walks beside us. Maybe you have experienced this – I certainly have. I realise that I may be accused of over-simplifying the question of pain and suffering but I hope it makes you think about it.

Pamela Marsham

 

Picture by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash.

Holy Week

During Holy Week this year you might like to watch one of these.  The first link starts a new tab in your browser in full screen, the pictures play as they are.

In addition we will be posting services at 6:00pm Mon-Thur evenings.

Mon-Wed they will be Compline, with a meditation and silence.

Thursday it will be similar to a Sunday post.

We will also post at 9:00 and 12:00 on Good Friday and 6:00 on Holy Saturday and 9:00 on Easter Day.

Jesus of Nazareth

This is six hours long, but with YouTube you can remember where you stopped and then go forwards to that point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=50IiF1rTTGQ

BBC’s The Passion

First broadcast a few years ago, it is in two parts, both around one hour 15 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=zIPib0mGN4E

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=zxGp7e5LgXU

Here are someone else’s ideas for Holy Week: https://www.pickingapplesofgold.com/holy-week-reflections-resource

Also, you might like to do something creative; I would like to put up a collection of other material from yourselves. I have already received a poem and some photos of nature. If you would like to write something, make something, photograph or video something you have made and send it to me please do. Instructions on how to get it to me can be found here: https://badshotleaandhale.org/2020/03/29/future-services/

Launde Abbey are offering a free online Holy Week Retreat.  Details here: https://laundeabbey.org.uk/laundeathome/holy-week-2020/

Graham Everness from St Paul’s, Dorking, has put together the following material for Holy Week: Mark These Words 1-8.

There is also a challenge for Holy Week below; a simple framework which should take you just seven minutes in each of these seven days. It comes from the Diocese of Guildford’s Lent course and you can find details of the Gospel readings and the challenges for each day. Click here.

  • Light a candle and, next to it, place the object suggested as a symbol of your own journey to the cross. Many of us continue to light a candle in our windows at 7pm. You might do it at the same time – or 7am if that suits you better!
  • Read the relevant text from Matthew’s Gospel.
  • Be still. In Psalm 4, the psalmist prayed ‘stand in awe and sin not: commune with your own heart within your chamber and be still’.
  • Be challenged. There is a little practical challenge each day.

Wintershall will be livestreaming through their Facebook page at 12 and 3pm on Good Friday. You do not have to be a Facebook member to see it, it is open to everyone. It includes pre-recorded clips of rehearsals from their Passion Play 2020, clips and interviews from the other cities and towns taking part in the One Good Friday 2020 project.