Pastoral Letter: Lockdown & St Michael’s

Thursday 5th November, 2020

Dear Parishioners

As I said Mass yesterday in church, I was painfully aware that this was the last public service at Saint Michael’s for at least a month. But this is a very different kind of lockdown from earlier in the year. Although public worship is suspended, I stress that the church remains open for personal prayer and I urge you all to come as often as possible. Some materials will be available to help you pray. The church will be open every day (except Fridays) from about 9.30am until around 6.30pm. The only other time it will be closed is when a service is taking place. Although the doors will have to be closed briefly for this purpose, the bell will ring out as usual to remind the parish that prayer is being offered on behalf of all.

Unlike before when we pre-recorded some services, all worship will be ‘live’ – whether that is Morning Prayer using ‘Zoom’ (please see link at bottom of the page) or Mass both during the week and on Sundays, which will be livestreamed simultaneously on Facebook and our YouTube channel – just access these directly from the church website (stmichaelbarnes.org) or via the links below, and see the end of this message for a list of services. I realise that not all of us feel confident with technology, so please don’t be reticent to ask for help with accessing services. Of course, this coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday and the livestreamed Sung Requiem Mass at 10am will conclude with an Act of Remembrance at our War Memorial in church. Whether you are able to watch the service or not, I encourage you to keep the two minute silence at that time as we remember the dead and pray for peace.

Another significant difference between this lockdown and the last, is that two people are permitted to meet one another outside. This will be a great help to many, and the clergy are here to provide pastoral support. Although the colder weather brings its own challenges, do let us know if you would like to meet in this way. However, there are some urgent contexts such as the hearing of Confession, the anointing of the sick, and the comfort of the dying upon which there can be no restrictions, and in such cases the clergy will of course minister in church and at home as appropriate.

Once again, Christians find themselves unable to access the grace of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We must let this time of deprivation increase our longing and our hope to be united with Christ. With that in mind, the Blessed Sacrament will be on the Altar for personal devotion every Sunday straight after the Sung Mass has been livestreamed (around 11.00am) until closing time. However, the Scriptures also use the term ‘Body of Christ’ to refer to the gathered people of God, and while we cannot gather in person, we can gather online and from this Sunday there will be a return of the popular Zoom Coffee with guest speaker at 11.30am (link details will be in the Notices email on Saturday).

Personally, I am glad that this lockdown comes at this time if it means restrictions may be lifted in order to keep some kind of Advent and Christmas together, albeit rather different from normal. I am putting together plans for a number of possible scenarios and will share this with you soon. Whatever happens, Christmas will happen, because the celebration of Christ’s birth is a reality that exists in the heart of every Christian, and nothing can prevent that joy from rising within us.

I want to finish by commending to you a prayer of Saint Augustine of Hippo as prayer to say during lockdown. It is a very simple prayer, but I offer it to you as one that may be useful in this period of anxiety and uncertainty, so that you may be strengthened with hope and faith.

Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to his providence. Amen.

With best wishes and prayers,

Father Stephen, Vicar

ONLINE SERVICES

Sunday – Sung Mass 10.00am Facebook and You Tube
Monday – Morning Prayer 9.00am Zoom
Tuesday – Morning Prayer 9.00am Zoom
Wednesday
Morning Prayer 9.00am Zoom
Mass 12.00pm Facebook and YouTube
Thursday – Morning Prayer 9.00am Zoom
Saturday
Morning Prayer 9.00am Zoom
Mass 9.30am Facebook and YouTube

Morning Prayer takes place via Zoom – click on the link here to join in:

Masses are on Facebook and You Tube – click on these links to join in: Facebook
You Tube