At last we are just starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel and on March 29th the very gentle easing of restrictions will begin. It has certainly been a long haul and we need to keep praying for the continued vaccine roll out, the restoration of people’s lives and health, the recovery of the economy and the general re-ordering of the nation. The bible urges us to pray for all those in authority (1 Tim 2:1&2) and to submit to their rule and governance as good citizens (Romans 13:1). Those twin responsibilities can sometimes feel both hard and irksome but one thing I know for certain is that I would not like the responsibility of having to make the key decisions that our present Government Ministers need to make at this time so they can be assured of my prayer! So with change now upon us let me update you with a couple of things:
Returning to our Church Buildings:
This Sunday (March 28th) is Palm Sunday and services will be being held, either outside or inside, in Overton, Laverstoke, North Waltham and Steventon. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and so it is good that we can mark the occasion in some way. Needless to say, tight restrictions are still in place regarding our worship and we will adhere to them accordingly – congregational singing, for example, is still not allowed. The services will also be on the shorter side to avoid unnecessary mixing and exposure (N.B. Put your clocks forward too!) On Good Friday (April 2nd) and Easter Sunday (April 4th) we will be fully resuming services inside our buildings and, again, all necessary precautions will be taken to ensure compliance and safety as we move forwards.
In addition to our Palm Sunday church worship there will also be an on-line service this Sunday as normal. That can be accessed as usual through the St. Mary’s, Overton website. However, from April the pattern will change. Services will be recorded in the church building and then put up on the website. ‘Zoom Coffee’ in its present format has also now come to an end but something similar on a Sunday evening might well replace it. Watch this space. I would just like to say a huge thank you to those who have worked so hard in this lockdown and in previous ones to put on our services and make them so accessible to us all – particularly to Ian Haynes who has uploaded everything on to the services page and to Pete Silverwood who has sourced the music for us Sunday by Sunday. It is massively appreciated by all of us. A big thank you to Alice as well for hosting ‘Zoom Coffee’.
This has proved to be a real highlight for us as we’ve reflected on the Scriptures together week by week through Lent. Amy has led it beautifully for us. Our final session will be on Tuesday, March 30th. I thought it would be very appropriate if we closed our final evening by taking Holy Communion together. We can do this on-line as I have some individual Communion Sets that I can distribute to people beforehand so that we can each have them ready with us for that evening. If you will be attending ‘Lectio Divina’ on the final Tuesday please let me or Ruth know and we will deliver the sets to you in preparation. Just let us know how many you need per household.
I think it would be very appropriate to have another evening of prayer on Maundy Thursday (April 1st) and so we will do what we have done before and keep an open ‘Zoom Room’ from 6pm-10pm. It seems completely right and appropriate to pray for our world, our country and our community as we emerge from Lockdown and seek God’s blessing for the days and months ahead. The zoom link will be sent out in due course for any who would like to attend.
I will be sending out a final Holy Week reflection from Charlie Seligman next week which will aid and inspire our thoughts as we look ahead to Easter and consider again all that Jesus has done for us – the suffering of the cross and the wonder of the resurrection and the empty tomb.
May you all know God’s blessing and peace James