A Summery Rectory Ramblings
Saturday 7 November 2020
Good evening everyone,
It’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to write a fulsome Rectory Rambling.
Jo and I wanted to send out our greetings to all of you.
You are always on our hearts and ever in our prayers, especially as I know many of you are bearing heavy burdens as we tread our wearying way through this valley of shadows.
This has been a poignant week at many different levels, has it not?
On Thursday, we entered a new national lockdown in an urgent effort to bring the mounting number of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations under control.
For some this news comes as a shock.
Others will have been wondering what took us so long to act.
Many will be desperately anxious for vulnerable members of their family, fearful for the future of their workplaces, uncertain of what impact this might have on their children’s education.
We all find ourselves looking ahead to a time of lingering uncertainty, which certainly makes planning and preparing for the Christmas season feel rather complicated.
Our prayers ascend every single day for families whose lives have been impacted by this virus – especially for those who have died and for all who are grieving and in pain.
We pray for our frontline workers of all kinds, many of whom begin this second lockdown feeling exhausted and overstretched.
We pray for those living on their own who have felt the isolation and loneliness of the last nine months most acutely, and really are not looking forward to long winter nights ahead.
We pray for those who are working, studying, researching for vaccines and new medical therapeutics to combat this virus.
We pray for our political leaders who often must make difficult decisions with only partial and incomplete information.
We pray for wisdom and for the moral courage to govern with compassion, equity and justice.
In the face of so much uncertainty and invitations to fear, we hold tightly to the love of God whose peace surpasses all understanding.
We fix our eyes on Jesus, the one who bore the failings of our humanity in his wounded body and revealed on the cross the relentless, limitless love of God for us.
We stand once again united as one body in prayer over our nation, our community, our church family and one another.
So come, Holy Spirit, we cry,
be with us in our isolation,
be close to us in our distancing,
be healing in our sickness,
be joy in our sadness,
be light in our darkness,
be wisdom in our confusion,
be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar,
that we may learn to be your faithful people
loving and serving your world
with compassion, courage and care,
for Jesus’ sake.
On Saturday we took some time out to mark our annual ‘In Loving Memory’ service.
This is a special time we share each November to pause and remember before God those we love but see no longer.
Sadly, the timings of the new restrictions meant that we were not able to gather in person at St Leonard’s or Wootton St Lawrence.
Despite this, we have nonetheless put together an online service which is now available on our Church@Home YouTube channel.
If you would find this helpful, I really encourage you to participate in this act of remembering.
Marilyn Scott offers a beautiful reflection and there is space at the heart of the service for you to light a candle at home and name before God any loved ones who are dear to your heart.
I hope that this space is a source of comfort, hope and peace.
New guidance from government does permit us to keep our churches open for private prayer.
This morning, we welcomed several visitors who were able to sit and reflect in the peaceful setting of these ancient buildings.
I wanted to thank all the stewards who were present throughout the morning to help make this possible, Shirley who has made some absolutely stunning flower arrangements, and Penny and Graeme who helped coordinate all the details behind the scenes.
If ever you would find it helpful to find a place of stillness and peace, you are always welcome to come to light a candle, pray or just be.
St Leonard’s is currently open every Monday and Thursday from 1:30am-2:30pm and at St Lawrence every Tuesday and Saturday from 10am-4.00pm.
This week marks Remembrance Sunday. In more normal times, a large crowd from across the village would gather together at the St John’s Garden of Remembrance, huddling close to keep warm on the frost-encrusted grass.
Alas, this is clearly not possible this year.
Instead, two things will be taking place tomorrow.
There will be a small act of remembrance at St John’s, but this will be a short service limited to local veterans and representatives of the village community.
The main act of remembrance will take place online at Church@Home.
The service is set to premiere at 10:45am.
We have timed it such that whenever you join the service, the two minute silence will be held at 11:00am.
I understand that there is a national movement for us to stand on our doorsteps and hold the silence together.
Understandably, the American election has informed everything I’ve been thinking about this week, including Remembrance Day.
In this polarised time of division and strive – not just in my country, but present here as well – I offer this Remembrance Day prayer, even for enemies.
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O God of every human being, forgive when we identify our kin too easily as enemies.
Teach us to seek the good of all, and not only our own.
When our cousins are acting unjustly or causing harm, help us to constrain them without hatred or evil thoughts, but to seek their good even as we resist the damage that may be caused.
We pray that those to whom we are opposed may be turned from enemy to friend.
We pray that in our cause we may not fall into sin, so convinced of our own righteousness that we are unaware of our own sin.
We pray that we are not so distracted by another’s sin that we cannot be convinced of their value as children of God.
May we always remember your willingness to forgive, and to bless, and to call the most unlikely of saints.
- - - - -
For all the frustration, fear and exhaustion of this time, take courage!
The Spirit of God is alive and at work among us and even through us, bringing life and light into the forgotten corners of God’s world.
God is on the move in ways we cannot always perceive, let alone comprehend.
Our greatest asset in this time is the gift of one another.
Let us lean into the precious fellowship we share in Jesus. Let us hold one another in prayer.
May our faith – our inner life – sink deep roots of trust into the loving faithfulness of God.
And may Christ’s love and mercy pursue you always, even to the uttermost ends of the earth and beyond.