A message from our Vicar Rev’d Stephen

Date: March 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

It already seems a strangely long time since we gathered together on
Sunday, as our worship concluded with Tallis’ *Ecce Tempus Idoneum*, where
was fittingly sung (here translated):

*Therefore with fasting and with prayer / Our secret sorrow we declare; /
With all good striving seek his face, /  And lowly hearted plead for
grace. / Cleanse us, O Lord, from every stain, / Help us the need of praise
to gain, / Till with the Angels linked in love / Joyful we tread thy courts
above.*

As you have probably already heard, the Archbishops have taken the unusual
step of suspending all public worship until further notice – more here
<https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/17%2003%2020%20Joint%20letter%20from%20the%20Archbishops%20of%20Canterbury%20and%20York%20re%20coronavirus.pdf>.

We would have to go back to the 1200s to find a similar situation. During
this strange time, the clergy have been charged to be about their first
calling – which is prayer for their people. Morning and Evening Prayer,
and regular celebrations of the Eucharist will continue, but these will be
done in private for the time being.

–       You will be each prayed for by name across the week. If you
have a particular prayer intention, do write to me.

–       As long planned, we shall hopefully be rolling out our
online newsletter in the coming days via Church Suite.

–       We do not want you to feel bereft, so we are aiming to bring
a little bit of St John’s worship straight to you at home! More photogenic
clergy than myself are experimenting with videos and live streaming.
However, I will be uploading an audio homily on each feast day and Sunday
– click here <https://tinyurl.com/stjtbsermons>to listen to the first
one! Keep checking this site.

–       So you don’t get tired of my dulcet tones, when my wife has
finished her night shifts, with her assistance an audio version of Compline
will follow, and hopefully Evening Prayer also. Furthermore, Rob and the
choral scholars hope to be supplementing this with a selection of music
they will record especially for this period. More details to follow!

–       For those who prefer to read and ponder, I attach a booklet
of resources.

–       For those who prefer something daily, I thoroughly commend
Pray as You Go <https://pray-as-you-go.org/>, a short 10 min service of
prayer, music and scripture.

–       For those who are feeling anxious, Mind
<https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/>
have produced some excellent resources. For those who prefer listening to
short meditations, I find Headspace <https://www.headspace.com/covid-19>
invaluable.

–       If you are in self-isolation, please do let me know. Please
be proactive in keeping in contact with people, especially the most
vulnerable and isolated. Face-to-face visits are to be avoided but please
do phone people and make sure that they know that you are thinking about
them.

–       I have had several offers of help from people willing to do
shopping or other things for those who are most vulnerable. I am very
grateful and encouraged by these offers. If you need help with shopping or
other such things, please let me know.

–       Reflections on the situation from:

o   The Diocese of St Albans
<https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/coronavirus/>

o   The Bishop of London
<http://bishopoflondon.org/news/loving-our-neighbours-in-the-midst-of-coronavirus/>

o   St Martin in the Fields
<https://twitter.com/smitf_london/status/1239207598374752258>

o   Archbishops of Canterbury & York
<https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/opinion/columnists/coronavirus-and-churchs-message-hope-communities-archbishops-canterbury-and-york-2455706>

Last night I reflected with the Church Committee on the goals I had for my
first years here: *to encourage each member of the congregation to commit
themselves to regular prayer; to encourage everyone to learn more of Holy
Scripture; and that we might all be better equipped to speak about our
faith to others. *This was not quite the Lent and Holy Week I imagined, but
these are the days in which we have been called to live, to pray, and trust
in God.

I commend to you this morning’s psalm:

*Turn thee again, O Lord, at the last and be gracious unto thy servants. O
satisfy us with thy mercy, and that soon so shall we rejoice and be glad
all the days of our life. Comfort us again now after the time that thou
hast plagued us and for the years wherein we have suffered adversity. Shew
thy servants thy work and their children thy glory. And the glorious
Majesty of the Lord our God be upon us prosper thou the work of our hands
upon us, O prosper thou our handy-work. *[Ps 90]

With kind regards,

Stephen

Service times

Sunday

8:30am Holy Communion (BCP)
10:15am Sung Eucharist

2nd Sunday of the month

10:15am All Welcome Service