Rector's Letter - November 2020

Only some of the content of this email was sent out as part of last week’s grapevine, so it is worth another read.

I know how much you have appreciated the online services we have offered for over 6 months now and that we have tried to maintain things as they were when we able to meet in the church building.  I would like, on your behalf, to offer a huge vote of thanks to all those who have led, or preached, and also to Ray who spends hours every week putting everything together from the recordings we send him.  May I remind you that those other churches that offered online services, and not all did, tended to post one service a week, while we have been maintaining 3 online services.

However, following a number of conversations at our Monday Morning Meeting, we have realised that merely seeking to maintain the old pattern is neither helpful nor possible.  Many of those who have been able to help were initially working from home, with free hours due to a lack of commuting time, but that is no longer the case.  In addition, some of the feedback we have received, combined with our own observations, have led us to believe that the structure which feeds us when we meet together in the church building does not work so well when we are in our own homes with all its distractions. 

So, bearing all that in mind, we have realised that we need to restructure our online services for the next few months, and we will be seeking to learn what works best in a digital world.  I do hope that you will bear with us, during this time, and that you will offer constructive comments.  Please note that, once this pandemic is over, we fully expect to be able to resume our previous pattern of services within the building so that any changes in the content and pattern of our Sunday services will only be temporary.

The Book of Common Prayer service of Holy Communion will continue.  This is for two reasons: first, it is very easy for Ray to put together each week as there are no hymns and it is a case of slotting the readings, sermon, collect, notices, and welcome in to a service that only needs to be rerecorded at key points in the year.  Second, and more importantly, we have also realised that the major demographic of those who attended this service in person, before the pandemic, means that they are the very people who were asked to shield and with whom we have not been able to have any physical presence.  In addition, we have heard that people who used to attend, but have been unable to do so over a number of years because of ill health, or having relocated elsewhere, have responded with such joy at being able to be transported (albeit digitally) back to worship in St Margaret’s.  In a life of so much change and uncertainty, being able to join a familiar, poetic, service which has been prayed for so many centuries, is comforting and, as always, we offer good Bible-based sermons.

Alongside that we will hold a service of between 40-50 minutes each week (no more than 60 minutes) of Morning Worship which will, when the readings or occasion are conducive, be Holy Communion.  On some weeks this might have a more traditional liturgical slant and on others a more contemporary feel.  One of the unexpected blessings of lockdown has been the opportunity to see and hear those who read, or intercede for us, from across the whole breadth of our Church family, and I do hope that in our new service we will be able to incorporate more video clips of a wider group of people, particularly as we would like to introduce a time when people can share their joys of answered prayer.  Could you send a short video clip, or even a written account, of how you have experienced God’s blessings, or had your prayers answered, please?

We will continue to know and share God’s transforming love with one another, with our local community, and the wider world.  I also hope that we will be seen as a people of prayer who never give up interceding for others, as well as praising God and giving thanks to him, and that we will not stop taking the light of Christ out into our communities.  If you need prayer please do not forget to call the prayer line.

We will also, during this second lockdown, continue to offer resources for our children, and Abi is putting together a short children’s service each week. 

There will be extra events and services online over the next couple of months and, when possible, in person - so do keep checking the website.  As a short ‘teaser’, Messy Church, Christingle, the Crib Service and Nativity Service, and also our glorious celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas Day, will be brought to you online and, when permitted, we will also be able to book people in to the live special services.  I’m not going to tell you everything now, that would spoil the surprise, but we are in the process of putting together things for all the generations and further details will be . . . you guessed it . . . on the website! 

There will be a number of things going on in the life of our church during Advent: I can’t wait!  If you have some great ideas, which will add to the life of our church family, and the time to implement them, do please get in touch.  As the family of God in this place it is good to have input from as many as possible, but also to be able to celebrate the life in all its fullness that Christ came to bring us.  Can you think of anything better than being able to enjoy celebrating God’s goodness each week with others?

And, once again, can I implore you to join a Life Group if you are not already in one.  Man was not created to live alone, we all need fellowship, and particularly in these dark days.  Joining a life group does not mean that you need to be knowledgeable.  Indeed we all have things to learn as well as to teach one another.  We were all created in the image of God, so reflect different facets of him and have differing experiences of him.  Thus the more interaction we have between ourselves the better and the fuller will be our love and knowledge of God, and the more joy and peace we will know.  Contact Tom at lifegroups@smchipstead.org.  If you aren’t yet ready to join a life group, but would like to have more contact with others from within the church family, please let us know.

May God bless you and keep you in the coming days and weeks
With much love, Susie