I write to you in the hope that you are able to call upon the support of your church brothers and sisters, during this challenging and unpredictable time.
Following Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.
As a PCC, we feel that it is important for people continue to feel connected to St James'. Even though we cannot meet together for collective worship, events, activities or to socialise, we can still communicate with each other, as many are already doing through emails and/or phone calls.
This is a difficult time for all of us but I want to reassure you, that church is changing and not closing. For many of us church attendance is a major part of our lives.
I will be opening the church for two hours - twice a week, for people to visit, for times of prayer and reflection and to pray for the nation. The idea is that people can come and go in their own time.
The two hour sessions should ensure we observe social distancing and appropriate hygiene when we are in the building.
St James' Church building will
be open on the following days
Sunday mornings at 10am to 12 noon
and Wednesday mornings at 10am to 12 noon
There is no obligation to visit, but if you want to be in church, the opportunity is available for you.
Wherever we will be on Sunday, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, for healing in our nation.
We can pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the COVID-19 virus, for those working in health and social care. We can also pray for the sick and pray for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
On Sunday we will celebrate Mothering Sunday, traditionally a day of refreshment in the time of Lent. It is a pause on the journey towards Holy Week and Easter. On Mothering Sunday we remember our belonging in the mother church and the family of faith, something that is even more important at this time when we are in some ways more separated from each other
Bible Readings for Mothering Sunday
1 Samuel 1.20-end;
2 Corinthians 1.3-7;
National Day of Prayer and Action
At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.
St James' Church is a member of Churches Together, so we will be joining with other churches in a National Day of Prayer and Action. We are asking people to light a candle of hope, at 7pm this Sunday. The candle (or an electric light) should be placed in a window of your home as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
Churches Together note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers and mother figures who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some, the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss. In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty please join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope.
Our Archbishops are also inviting you to continue praying, for 7 days, in praying the Lord's Prayer every time you wash your hands. Yes, for seven days! And then pray throughout the day for healing for those who are sick with COVID-19; and that God will heal us from the fear which will prevent us from working together.
A Church of England Prayer is below (further prayers are available here:
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love, for your name's sake. Amen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to lead a national broadcast as the Church of England responds to the challenge of becoming a different sort of church in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
The service will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and all local radio stations in England at 8am and will premier online at 9am on Sunday.
We may be able to do your shopping, collect a prescription or take you to a medical appointment.
We are also here if you just need to talk, share ideas or simply hear a voice that responds to what you say. We invite you to stay connected with St James through social media, emails and phone calls.
During this time of disruption and uncertainty, St James cares deeply for you and your family. We encourage you to take comfort in the words of Jesus:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
As you make precautions to protect and care for your loved ones, take time to pause and look for how God is working. This unique time is an opportunity to lead and cherish your family and friends, and to grow together in faith. Together, let's make the most of this season and ask God to strengthen our trust in Him.