Roger Barnes

Dear Fellow Members of St Bartholomew’s

This Sunday is the Third Sunday after Trinity, and, as is my wont, I read through the Collect, Epistle and Gospel from the Book of Common Prayer. My copy is dated 1716 but the words have little altered since the first issue of 1549 when Edward the sixth was King. The 1662 revision updated the language and rendered the meanings more exact. I was particularly struck by the Collect and its appropriateness for the times we live in.

“Oh Lord we beseech thee, mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

Short and to the point. There is no doubt that we do live in times of danger and adversity with an invisible enemy in the form of Coronavirus potentially waiting around the next corner to infect us if we are not careful. One of the great benefits of prayer is that it does concentrate the mind, and there is no harm in asking God to help us to be careful. Careful not only of our own health but of others as well.

I am writing this without the benefit of the latest advice from the Bishops Council, so my interpretation of the easing of restrictions is that church services with a maximum of 30 people will be permitted, but no singing, and observing distancing rules. Is that two metres or one? It’s confusing. Your Core Team of Rector, Wardens, Ministry Team and other Standing Committee members, will be deliberating how best we can safely resume services in church, but our main concern will be how we do this safely, and how do we involve members who are sheltering and would rather not attend a service in church. Getting into the “lock down” was easy, getting out is going to involve a lot of careful planning, so please be patient with us, and pray for us. Bishop Steven in his letter today to church officers says:

“At this important point in the journey we want to underline some key principles for the Diocese. The most important is to prepare prayerfully, thoroughly, carefully and locally, with clergy and PCC’s consulting together about how to resume public worship. This is not a decision to be rushed. Every parish and benefice is different. There are serious health and safety considerations to be worked through in every place. We will be able to meet in our buildings again, but this will be far from a return to normal life before lockdown.”

If anyone has any questions at any time I would urge you to contact me (07891 633429) or Gill. Paul is already bearing the brunt of the “unlocking” planning, and Nicci has her knee operation coming up in the middle of July. They both need our prayers.

Finally, I must apologise for my dilatoriness in contacting members of the congregation on my “contact” list. I don’t know why but I’m hopeless at cold calling. I suppose I worry that they will be in the middle of doing something else. Not a good excuse – I will try and get better.

Hopefully we will meet in church in the not too distant future – safely of course, and St Bartholomew’s is open daily between 11 and 3 for private prayer.

God bless