What a strange Summer this has been so far. Schools are about to close for the summer holidays, yet some children have not been to school since March. Other children have been in one day a week and others have been at school throughout while their parents worked in the essential categories such as the NHS, police, fire and some teachers. Holiday plans have been cancelled and then booked again recently. Many people are choosing to holiday in the UK to avoid risky travel or disappointment. The weather has been strange. A period of early hot summer weather gave way to cold and rainy days.
Life is upside down in so many ways.
However, church is open twice a week for the moment. We begin being able to take communion from this coming Sunday and this will be the case for Sundays, 19, 26 July and 2 August. We will then have a break from Mass for two weeks, the 9 and 16 August and resume Mass on the 23 August. This break is to allow me to have a holiday myself. I cancelled all the cover I had in place from last January as all of these priests were over 70 and would be vulnerable. I have not sought any other cover because I do not want to put any other priest in a vulnerable position by distributing communion.
Fortunately Shanti has agreed to provide a Service of the Word for these two weeks, at the usual time of 10.15. I am very grateful to him for agreeing to do this. Do support him if you are not away yourselves. It will be a lovely service similar to Morning Prayer but with a sermon within the content.
Bishop Sarah has encouraged all clergy to get a break as the ups and
downs of the last few months have taken their toll on so many. She is
very concerned about clergy welfare and as with all people the stress
of the lockdown has brought to the fore issues of mental health. This
is something we as a parish need to talk about and never be ashamed
of. We have seen from high profile people and even royalty that
encouragement to talk about our mental state, our worries and our
troubles. Bottling things up does no one any good.
The effects of mental health problems are huge, and given the challenging times we are living in with coronavirus, it's more important than ever that we take steps to support good mental health.‖ Church of England, ‘Supporting good mental health.’
The website for the C of E - https://www.churchofengland.org/ has resources, readings and reflections. These are available as sound modules or printable pdf's.
Don‘t suffer alone, share your concerns and talk to others in a safe place. I hope that church is that safe place. “Scary though these things may be, God may well be in our midst, waiting to bless us.” C of E website.
God bless you all through these summer weeks. Get some
refreshment and rest if you can. But above all, stay safe and look
after yourselves so that you can then look after others.