Sustaining prayer, worship and the spiritual life amidst COVID-19
The Christian life is all about relationships. As people of faith, we are called to relate to God and to each other, and for most us, this finds its focus in our weekly gathering Sunday by Sunday for worship, in buildings that speak to our communities of God’s abiding presence in their midst. But at the moment, and for the time being, all our normal ways of doing things have been brought to a standstill. For the sake of public health and safety, church buildings remain closed, and we are unable physically to gather with others to worship and pray together. So the challenge is for us to find ways to do things differently as the dispersed rather than gathered people of God.
The speed of this change has been dizzying, and new information and guidance is being issued almost daily. Along with clergy across the country, I’m doing my best to work out alternative ways for us to be sustained and nurtured in our faith and relationships with God and each other. The situation calls for rapid responses which may need to change again, so please bear with me and with each other as we do the best we can in challenging circumstances.
The situation calls for readiness to try a range of tools that we can use to communicate and stay in touch with each other. I know that not everyone wants or is able to embrace the panoply of modern technology. But for those who do (including anyone brave enough to try for the first time), there are several options:
E-mail – Jill Wright is administering a list of those in our parish or connected with it who have e-mail and would like to use it to keep in touch. At the moment I plan to e-mail maybe a couple of times a week, with some words of encouragement and any relevant changes to information about how churches are operating at the moment. You’re able to opt out at any time. If Jill doesn’t have your e-mail address and you’d like to keep in touch in this way, please pass it to her. In the same way, if you want to come off this list, then please let Jill know! We don’t want to lose touch with you completely and so we’ll make a new list that is only used occasionally – at most once a week. With your permission, we’ll transfer your details to that list.
Website – there is a new website for the parish – www.kcbchurches.org.uk.
Check here regularly for news and up-to-date information.
Facebook – there is a new Facebook page for the parish – log on to Facebook and search for ‘KCB Parish’. I did my first Facebook livestream on Sunday 22nd March at 10am – a service of Morning Prayer, and throughout the week I’ve been livestreaming Morning and Evening Prayer at 9am and 4.30pm respectively (the videos stay on the page, so you can watch them later if you prefer).
The Facebook page is also a good place to share information about local services in the parish that might be useful to people who are self-isolating (the Cononley Village Shop, for example, is offering deliveries in the village).
Alongside the new technology, I’m also making use of older technology – the phone! I’m trying to make a few pastoral phone calls each day, to keep in touch with people to find out how you’re doing and whether you have any particular prayer requests. If you haven’t heard from me yet, it’s probably because I’m still working my way through the lists! But please feel free to telephone me too, with prayer requests or if there’s any other way I can help you. It would be best if you call my landline number (01274 405170) rather than my mobile, as the reception’s not brilliant. There’s an answerphone for a message if I can’t take your call, and I’ll phone back as soon as I can.
For those who can’t or don’t use electronic means of communication, I’m hoping that we can deliver hard copies of this magazine to you. I’m also planning on preparing some resources for use during Holy Week. If you need hard copies, please contact Jill Wright and let her know, as she’s compiling a list of those who require information in that format. Given the current restrictions on movements outside the home, can I please ask that you ask to go on that list only if you have no access to e-mail or the internet, rather than simply preferring hard copy. I or someone else will do our best to deliver to you, but it will help if deliveries can be kept to a minimum. Thank you.
And finally, some pointers to resources that may help you immediately:
The Church of England publishes the liturgies for Morning and Evening Prayer on its website. There are at least two places can find this. Either go to churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer
or visit the Oremus website at oremus.org/cofe.html
Click on ‘More options’ on the C of E site if you’re looking for a particular date.
The Church of England has also produced liturgies and prayers in the light of the coronavirus outbreak. You can find prayers about the outbreak, prayers with children, personal prayers and worship at home. Go to churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources
Some of these prayers form this month’s Prayer Page overleaf.