Dear Friends,

I want to reach out and communicate with the church family as the Coronavirus situation continues to develop. Clearly, it’s a very concerning situation which looks set to become a significant challenge to us all.

Following guidance

As you will know, the government stepped up its guidance this week in order restrain the spread of the virus, advising that anyone who has a fever or a cough should isolate themselves. Obviously this will result in some of us not being able to attend church services and meetings.

Caring for others

It is really important, therefore, that we do our best to keep an eye out for others, especially for those who live alone, just to make sure that no one is struggling without help or friendship. I know that we will be able to do this for each other in our church family, and let’s also look out for our neighbours living around us – even if we don’t know them particularly well, a friendly enquiry or phone call might be just what is needed.

Meeting together

Unless government guidance changes, we will continue to meet together on Sundays. We have been advised to take certain simple precautions in the services (we’ll avoid the hand-shaking in the peace, and passing the collection plate around and so on), and we are trying to make hand cleansing gel available at the main door. In terms of communion, we have been advised that while we should cease to share the wine for the time being, we can continue to share the bread – we will ensure that it is prepared and distributed with care.

You can read a more detailed page of guidance from the Church of England just here.

For those who are unable to attend a service on Sunday, the sermon is always available on our website.

Trusting God

In all this, let’s keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and keep praying – for each other and for our nation. It’s easy for fear to get a grip on our lives. Obviously we should be careful and prudent. But carefulness and prudence can easily become paranoia and fear – it’s a short step from one to the other. The words of Psalm 46 are a great antidote to this: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. I tried to say more about this at the 9.30 service last Sunday; if you like, you can listen to it here.

The Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12 also seem appropriate: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.

Clearly the situation is changing rapidly, as is the advice we’re receiving, and therefore we may need to change plans at short notice. We’ll aim to keep the church website up to date with any further news.

With love in Jesus,