Suspension of Public Worship

Prayer and Pastoral support during current outbreak

18th March 2020

Dear Parishioners,
 
Many of you will already know that all public worship has been suspended in all churches for the time being. This is a deeply distressing but necessary action in light of the current crisis. Most other church activities are also currently paused as well. Nevertheless it is essential to remember that the rhythm of prayer never ceases and therefore we have put the following in place with immediate effect:

  • The church will be open every day (as usual) from about 8.45am until the early evening for private prayer. I strongly encourage you to come into the house of God to pray for yourself and your loved ones, our nation and vulnerable people all over the world at this time. Resources will be provided in church such as prayer sheets and cards.
  • Morning Prayer every day (except Friday) and Mass on Wednesday and Saturday will continue (privately) and be broadcast so that you can join in. We are working out how to do this more effectively, perhaps with live streaming, but for the moment we are recording services and you can access them online either on Facebook or You Tube. For example here is Morning Prayer from today: https://youtu.be/gvEUPvaddLI and the Noon Mass: https://youtu.be/cRT60NfAZJQ. The aim is that these services should be available to view at around the same time that they would normally take place so that you can maintain a pattern of prayer. They can also be accessed through our website (see ‘Online Services’ under ‘Worship’) and Facebook. We are being encouraged to ring the bell at the usual times so that the people of the parish know they are being prayed for even if they cannot attend.
  • On Sunday, Mass will be uploaded or broadcast for 10am on our website and, and we will try to make it as much like a normal St Michael’s service as possible with hymns and music. I urge you to gather with your families at home and come together to worship in this way to take part in what is known as Spiritual Communion – when we are unable to come together in person we can receive the same grace we would have done by receiving the Sacrament in person. The Blessed Sacrament will be placed on the altar for adoration all Sunday from 9am until 7pm.
  • It may be possible for some church groups and meetings to take place (with appropriate social-distancing) whether online or in person, depending on how many people would attend and the age profile of the group. If you lead a group, please consider how you keep going and support one another during this time.
  • Be pastoral. The clergy will be telephoning all members of the congregation regularly, and especially the elderly and vulnerable, please do care for other church members, for your neighbours, and anyone you know who is vulnerable – this means, above all, taking strenuous precautions at all times to avoid infecting those who are in the vulnerable category. Informal support can be a major help at this time but in the coming days I hope to tell you more about formal arrangements St Michael’s, in connection with other organisations in Barnes, plan to support people over the long-term. It is my intention that a leaflet should go out to everyone in the Parish in the next few days.
  • Please contact me or any of the clergy at any time if you need to. I can be contacted on vicar@stmichaelbarnes.org or 020 8878 7589. Please also let me know if you are self-isolating so that I can pray for you and also support you as required.
  • The Pews News will continue in a new format so continue to send in prayer requests to the Parish Office.

The suspension of public worship, and the whole crisis we are facing, provides a dramatically new perspective on what it means to walk with Christ on the Way of the Cross during Lent and Holy Week, and to share in the joy of his Risen Life at Easter. As difficult as this time is, let us also see it as an opportunity to be more faithful, to spend time in contemplation and prayer, and to increase in love for our neighbours and community. This is a time that tests our faith, but may also be a time of renewal when we learn what it means to be a disciple of Christ and beacon of God’s light and hope.

With all my love and best wishes at this time,
 
Father Stephen