A letter from our Church Warden, Roger Barnes
Dear Fellow Members of St Bartholomew’s
This Sunday is Pentecost, or Whitsunday as the Book of Common Prayer has it. The word Pentecost is from the Greek word meaning fiftieth and marks the start of the Jewish Harvest Festival 50 days after Passover (Easter to us). Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church for it was on that day that the followers of Jesus were “filled with the Holy Spirit, and began the speak with other tongues” (Acts 2.1). They then went out into the known world (Roman World) to spread the Christian message and the message of God’s love. I think we can argue that they were quite successful despite some harrowing persecutions on the way. So, Pentecost has always been an important feast-day in the Christian church calendar, more so in the Eastern Orthodox Church where it is accorded the rank of “Great Feast”, second only to Easter. In the West we adopt a more subdued approach, but none the less treat it as a very special day with special hymns like Wesley’s “Spirit of Faith Come Down”.
I am at risk of wandering off into historian mode to discuss the origins of ‘Whitsunday’. Did it come from White Sunday or Wise Sunday? I prefer the ‘Wise Sunday’ proposal as the day the disciples were filled with the wisdom of God by the Holy Spirit. Having said that, I can remember the Whit Walks in Lancashire when all the churches would process around the town or village behind their banners with all the girls dressed in white – holding long ribbons to keep them in line. Perhaps there is something in White Sunday after all.
Well, it appears that the lock-down may be easing. Certainly the number of fatalities from Covid-19 is decreasing as are the numbers in hospital and in critical care. Non-essential shops can open from 15th June, but any venues where people gather “en masse”, or in close contact, remain closed. So what does this mean for St Bartholomew’s? I think we are in the situation of “one size fits all” as far as the Bishops Council are concerned. Social distancing in a rural parish church should be quite easy to achieve and enforce, but much more difficult in a busy town church. Let us hope, and pray, that there is flexibility in the next BC instructions, and it is my earnest hope that we can at least open the church during the day in the very near future. Oh! nearly forgot, it is OK to meet as a group in the churchyard for prayer – observing social distancing of course.
Our Sunday morning Zoom services are a great way of joining in and mixing with our church family, we can even chat to each other until we are muted for the service. Very many thanks to Jane & Martin Dines for taking on the role of ‘Zoom service administrator’. If you have any difficulty joining the 10.30 service – the Zoom door opens at 10.00 – please contact Gill, Paul or myself (07891 633429).
As PCC Treasurer I will refrain from my usual wailings about shortage of income, but if anyone can help us to meet our fixed expenses then donations to Sort Code 30-99-78 A/c 00179381 will be gratefully received, or cash/cheques through the letterbox at 4 Pound Close.
Last words: keep washing hands and maintaining safe distances. Support (and applaud) the NHS and caring services, and support with prayer and safe contact anyone you know that may be suffering from loneliness. God bless.