• Fr John

Sunday worship at St Lawrence's - information

20th March 2020

Re: Sunday worship on 22nd March, Mothering Sunday

Through this week I’ve been pondering what to do about Sunday worship. It seems a travesty not to have an act of worship in church on Sunday. It is also important that through our shared experiences we continue to live as one community. After discussion with the Church Wardens and others, this is what I’ve come up with:

1. I will put a reflection on the readings and theme of the day online and produce a written transcript for distribution

This will ensure that those who don’t have access to the internet will still be able to engage with the reflection. For those who do, I plan to put the reflection up on Facebook as a video on the private page for St Lawrence’s and also to post on the St Lawrence website.

2. A Eucharist will be celebrated in church at 10:00 and this will be live-streamed

Note that this is not a public act of worship. The Communion will be celebrated in church by me and two others, with us maintaining the discipline of physical distancing. Please do watch on Facebook, where this will be live-streamed, or simply take comfort in knowing that worship is continuing and members of the St Lawrence community are participating – albeit at a distance

3. The church will be open throughout the day on Sunday for private prayer, with the sacrament on the altar and exposed from 11:00 – 12:00 noon

Prayer before the sacrament has a long history in Christian worship, especially in the Catholic tradition. Many of us experience prayer before the exposed, consecrated host as intensifying the presence of Christ. It seems particularly appropriate to offer private prayer in this way on a Sunday when those who would usually receive communion cannot.

I need to emphasise the need to maintain physical distancing as advised by the government. Death rates in the United States of America for those who contract coronavirus and are over 85 are running in excess of 10%; for those in the 75-84 age bracket, 4.3%. Death rates for the young (0-44 years) are much lower, but contact still needs to be avoided in the younger group to avoid population spread.

Present Church of England advice is that weddings and funerals can still take place, provided that there are no more than five people (including the priest) in church and that physical distancing is maintained. With pubs and cinemas closed, I think we can only offer the church for private prayer responsibly if we follow the same guidelines: no more than five people in church, keeping the rules about physical distancing. If you come to church and can see five people there, I would ask you to leave and come back at another time.

I’m sorry this is so hard, but it is important that we trying to maintain our worship and remain one community at this time.

This comes with my prayers and with love,

PS. May I encourage you – if you know a member of the congregation who doesn’t have email or web access – to let them know about the contents of this letter. It may be an encouragement to them.

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