A letter from the Vicar, Fr Kevin Morris
‘Here we go again!’ has been a phrase I’ve heard a lot in the last few days.
The pandemic has forced upon us a huge national crisis and the current lockdown is a two-edged sword: restrictions aimed at saving thousands of lives will also have a catastrophic effect on the economic life of the nation, as well as the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of many people.
As I write, I am very aware of the desperate needs of those whose work is insecure, whose businesses face bankruptcy, whose education is being disrupted, whose mental health is being damaged by fear, anxiety and loneliness and those who can barely afford to feed their children.
I noted that in his recent broadcast to the nation, the Prime Minister made no mention of ‘places of worship’. I do not see worship as part of the leisure industry or hospitality sector, nor as ‘inessential.’ Our Archbishops and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster have made a robust response to the government about this.
Nonetheless, public church services will be suspended during this second lockdown, until the beginning of December. The church is allowed to be open each day for private prayer and our daily live-streaming will recommence, starting tomorrow, Thursday, at 12 Noon, here on our Facebook page. Services will continue as during the previous lockdown – at 12 Noon on weekdays, and 10am on Sundays (please watch our website for updates).
Unfortunately, there will be no public act of worship for Remembrance Sunday, but I do encourage you to join us in your own homes to remember all who have died in war, by standing and keeping the two-minute silence. The live-streamed Remembrance service will begin at 10am, followed at 11am by the Act of Remembrance. Join them here on our Facebook page.
On our website, we are also remembering those named on our war memorials – and, this year, two Chiswick families who served in WW1 and WW2. You can read more on our Remembrance Online page.
I’m afraid the lockdown will also affect the beginning of Advent, which will mean the cancellation of our Advent Carol service. Hopefully we will be able to gather again in church as we prepare for Christmas when we will celebrate the birth of the Incarnate Lord, for He is Emmanuel – God with us.
May I suggest that four things will be important for us in the next weeks:
– Digging deep into our life of prayer and cultivating a profound relationship with the Lord;
– Allowing our faith to bear fruit in patience – things take time;
– The loving care of those in need;
– Being a people of hope, carrying the hope of Christ in our lives.
God bless us in this, dear friends.
I’d also like to share with you some of the contents of the letter sent to us by the Archbishops and the Bishop of London:
“This is a difficult and challenging time for all of us… it is our view that the best way we can serve our nation now is by pouring our energy into doing the things that we can do, which is to pray and to serve. We also dare to hope that we will be kind to each other and that God will give us the courage and humility we need to be faithful witnesses to the gospel of peace…
“Of course we are full of gratitude and respect for the amazing courage and commitment of all key workers especially those working in the NHS. Their contribution is rightly and widely recognised. We also applaud the many creative ways that churches up and down the land have been serving their local communities and working with others to make sure that the hungry are fed and the vulnerable cared for. We have managed to maintain and, in many cases, extend our outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online…
“However, worship online still means that the people of God do not have access to the sacraments which are so central to our life in Christ. This is a huge loss and, since we were not consulted about the lockdown provisions, we fully intend to speak with government about why certain exemptions are made and not others, emphasising the critical role that churches play in every community. The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra. Nor can we separate out our worship from our service: it is always both and not ‘either or…’.
“Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve, we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer…
“During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you, and to pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.
“We thank you for your service and ministry and pray that God will sustain you and encourage you.
“In one of the climactic passages of the New Testament, Paul says to those who follow Christ that their ‘love must be genuine, that they hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.’ He asks them to ‘serve the Lord’, exhorting them to ‘rejoice in hope; be patient in suffering; persevere in prayer; contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.’ (See Romans 12 9-12.) None of this is easy. Especially not at the moment. But it is our calling.”
Please do keep in touch with us, through the parish office, particularly if there are things we might be able to help you with.
With my prayers and very best wishes,